TAMPA (FOX 13) - A local teen is raising awareness about disabilities with a lifelike character and a snuggly costume.
15-year-old Jeremy Keyser - aka Huggles the Bear - always brings out a smile to kids at Johns Hopkins All-Children's Hospital.
Huggles helps them cope with their hospital experience.
"I just love when then the kids come running up to me give me a hug," Jeremy said.
Jeremy was born with an enlarged head, a condition called Hydrocephalus, due to excess fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. He had three brain surgeries before the age of 1.
"He didn't walk until he was 27-months-old, didn't talk until he was like 4 and a half," Paula Keyser, Jeremy's Mother said.
Jeremy still has some physical disabilities, but he is now flourishing.
"He just loves being a part of the community," Paula said.
He went from reading on a fourth-grade level while in the sixth grade to achieving the honor roll in middle school.
"We are very proud of him. Yeah, he's come a long way from the days in the NICU here at All Children's," Paula added.
For all his hard work Jeremy is being recognized with the "Yes I Can Award" given by the Council for Exceptional Children.
"I really do love it. When I get an award it just makes me feel proud," Jeremy said.
"Even though he stills haS daily struggles with daily living and getting through life he's got a positive outlook about it and just smiles doing it," Paula said.
He's a teenager with a big heart, working to promote understanding and awareness about people with disabilities.