My friend Tim Conners and his mom Betsy have just taken a huge step in their lives. Tim was diagnosed with Leukemia when he was 15 years old. After going through chemotherapy and then a bone marrow transplant that resulted in a complication that made him blind, Tim, needless to say, has been through the ringer. However, Tim is a “climber”. I originally met Tim when I was contacted by the Make a Wish Foundation a few years ago. After speaking with Tim, my teammate Skyler and I brainstormed with him and his mom and decided to do something fun but also adventurous together. We chose to do a high ropes course and river rafting trip. It was the first time Tim had stepped out of his comfort zone and done an adventure since he became blind.
Now, Tim is currently on a trip at the Grand Canyon called “Leading the Way” with Global Explorers, a program of No Barriers USA. I had the privilege of guiding some of the early Leading the Way trips. These experiences bring together teenagers who are both blind and sighted through an adventure that involves a community project like painting a school or planting trees in an endangered area. On July 2nd, Tim hikes out of the canyon, one of the most physical and mental challenges of the trip, and of his life.
I think Tim’s take on life reminds us all to keep crushing our own personal barriers even when they seem extreme.
To see the blog of when when we met each other two years ago, here is the link: http://www.touchthetop.com/blog/a-dream-comes-true-1512
Help me in cheering him on at his Care Bridge website as he hikes out of the canyon tomorrow! You can log in to the page with your Facebook account or by registering a new account. http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/timconners#_=_
Here’s a short excerpt from Betsy talking about how Tim has trained for the Grand Canyon adventure:
“While preparing and working out for this Grand Canyon trip Tim also achieved a 4.0 at Ithaca College. He set a goal of running up and down our stairs 50 times without stopping to build his endurance. The Saturday before he left he made it up and down 51 times. He also rode his Tandem Bike (something Skyler first did with him on his make a wish trip) over 8 miles each time and we hiked using his trekking poles (something Erik introduced him to)over 5 miles at a time. As you can tell I am a very proud mom and am thrilled that Tim has gone from walking in leg braces 3 years ago to now hiking and rafting in the Grand Canyon. He heads to UCLA on July 27th for a leadership week that he received a scholarship for. Even just flying alone all over the country is a major milestone.”
Please read the blog written by his mother that talks about his Grand Canyon adventure.
Betsy Conners, June 22, 2014:
Tonight Tim is camping with the Global Explorers Group on the north rim of the Grand Canyon! He has spent the past two months preparing for the physical challenges he will face over the next 12 days. He has been walking, hiking, running our stairs, and riding his tandem bike all over town.
On June 26th he will begin white water river rafting 90 miles down the Colorado River. The group will be camping along the way in parts of the canyon that most people do not get a chance to visit. He will be studying the effects of sound pollution on the canyon. On July 2nd he will make the tough hike out of the canyon as that is the only way out. The temperature in the canyon the other day was 106.
The picture on the front of his page shows him with all of his gear ready to go. I did not cry when I left Tim off at college, when I left him at the Carroll Center, when he went to Huntsville, Alabama for Space Camp, or when I left him at Perkins, but this morning when Mike and I left him at the airport this morning the tears came. I am so proud of his strength and determination.
Some people may think we are crazy for sending Tim on this adventure but to those of you who know Tim well know that once he sets his mind to something there is no stopping him. Ever since his Make a Wish with Erik Weihenmayer he is more determined than ever to show that neither cancer nor blindness can hold him back – he has adopted the no barriers mindset.
Last week we walked for the 4th year in a row at the Oswego County Relay for Life. Tim is not only hiking out of the canyon for himself but is also hiking in honor of all those who he has met who have lost their battle and are not able to hike on their own. I would ask that all of you send Tim positive thoughts between now and July 3rd and in particular on July 2nd when he is hiking out of the canyon. He is going to have to push his limits on this trip both physically and mentally but as he kept telling me it will not be worse than fighting for his life in ICU 46 months ago or than wrestling camp in Virginia.
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