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Senior Aaron Harrington Sings Anthem,Honors Father

September 26, 2014 – The death of a parent is hard on any family, especially when it's as sudden as a heart attack. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States.

One young man, 21-year-old Aaron Harrington, found a way to honor his father who died too soon. His sister asked him to compete for a chance to sing before the Triangle Heart Walk at the PNC Arena Sunday.

"The audition was to sing the national anthem," Harrington said. "My dad died on July 4. It just tied in together."

Since his audition, Harrington has rehearsed the song a lot.

"Doesn't matter, I'll come in at 11 at night singing very loudly and my mom's yelling, 'shut up!' I can't stop," Harrington said.

The Shaw University senior’s father, Gary Harrington, the father of nine children, passed away July 4, 2014, at the age of 56. He had diabetes for many years, a major risk factor for heart disease. All of his children wanted to make him proud, said Harrington.

"Mainly, he was faith driven. He was very big on respect – respect to our parents and elders," Harrington said.

Harrington also wanted to honor his father with a healthier diet and a more active lifestyle.

"Researching it (diabetes), it's prominent in African-American families. Knowing that and knowing that it was my dad that went through this, and it may be genetic, we have no choice,” he said.

"We have to change our lives and our lifestyles."

This article originally appeared on on September 26, 2014.