Clear Falls High grad with special needs known for spreading joy

LEAGUE CITY, Texas (KTRK) -- Jared Willis is unlike anyone else you'll meet. The recent Clear Falls High graduate is well-known among classmates for spreading joy everywhere he goes.

"Nobody looks at him like he has a disability," said Dr. Gregory Smith, Clear Creek ISD Superintendent. "I think the main thing that we see with Jared is that he has these wonderful gifts."

Jared was born with Seckel syndrome, a form of dwarfism that's so rare only around 50 others in the U.S. have the condition.

"When he was born, they said they didn't know if he would walk, talk, crawl or his longevity," said Jared's mom, Jamie Willis. "But he's 19 now and he's progressed above and beyond what he's supposed to do."

Jared first became notorious at Clear Creek ISD when he was in elementary school. He helped his special education teacher, Mrs. Brightwell, create a student-run bistro at Goforth Elementary.

"Jared was the maitre d' because he had a great personality and loved people," said Jamie Willis. "So that's when he first met Dr. Smith and they absolutely fell in love with each other."

He also caught the attention of astronaut Clay Anderson, who met Jared at Brightwell's Bistro.

"He came to school one day and asked Miss Brightwell if he would come meet Jared and she said, absolutely," said Jamie Willis. "So they bonded and started a friendship."

Over the past year, Jared has managed the Clear Falls High girls' varsity basketball team, who surprised him with a letterman's jacket embroidered with the name of his rock & roll idol.

"On the back it says Elvis," said Jared, beaming. "I love it. I miss them already."

"All the girls on the varsity team absolutely love him," said Jamie Willis. "After practice they would all set up on the bleachers and then he would get a microphone and he would sing a Johnny Cash song or an Elvis Song."

Jared's love for his favorite performers, Elvis and Johnny Cash, runs deep. The walls of his bedroom are filled with photos and memorabilia featuring the legendary singers.

"He's always had a knack for the guitar," said Jamie Willis. "And he's been playing for a good while now. He'll wear all black like Johnny Cash and he has the Elvis costume that he'll wear and sing. If he sees a band, he'll ask if he can go up and sing a song. He just loves entertaining people, making people happy."

"Jared has a magnetic personality," said Dr. Smith. "He's a cross between Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and this bubble of goodness that he brings to the table every day. When he walks into a room, he lights up a room."

Over the years, Jared has also been active in the Special Olympics, joining basketball, cheer and bowling teams. He also loves to paint, even auctioning off one of his paintings for $1,000 for the non-profit Awakening Minds Art.

Jared was also given special honors by the superintendent at Clear Falls High School's graduation in May.

"He gave him a rope around his graduation gown and gave a very nice speech about how he's overcome a lot of things in life," said Jamie Willis. "He keeps going forward and making the best of everything."

"Anyone that knows Jared loves Jared," said Dr. Smith. "And I'm one of his biggest fans."

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