Jul 1, 2014

Tim Conners, Continuing to Climb

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#_=_

Geared up for the Grand Canyon!

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:

Hello All,

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.




  • As a follower of Erik’s blog, I love reading stories of inspiring people Erik has met. Tim, you are one of the incredible people that I was so inspired by. I watched the Make a Wish video and was amazed how you put your fear aside and just went with your heart. Look at you now!! How far you have come-a 4.0 at Ithaca on top of the huge physical challenges you are attempting and achieving! Keep it up!!!!!!!!!!!!! That No Barriers Mindset and Erik as a role model is a powerful thing! Thank you for inspiring me, and your very supportive Mom as well. Good luck with college and your current and future adventurous endeavors! Hope to hear more updates!

    Clare LaPier

  • Hi there, Betsy and Erik!

    I had the great privilege of being one of the adult leaders on this wonderful program with Tim. We all had so much fun together and learned so much about ourselves. Tim also allowed me the wonderful, crazy and down right arduous task of helping guide him out of the Canyon at the end of this trip. It took us close to 14 hours to reach the top. We experienced 120 degree heat at the bottom, intense monsoon storms at the top, and all the ups and downs therein. Our team shared all of Tim’s highs and lows and were happy to support him through the whole journey. I have to admit that this one single experience has been both one of the hardest and satisfying of my life. Your son Tim is one of the most positive and life affirming human beings I’ve ever met. No matter how challenging the process, we had non-stop laughter all the way through. (Keep up the humor, Tim!!)

    To all the parents out there – thank you so much for allowing your kids the opportunity to participate in this program! They all got SO much out of it! It is truly one of the most formative and rewarding young adult programs I have encountered. I think I can speak for the entire adult leadership team when I say that thanks to kids like your son, we were all able to form life changing memories we will always treasure and carry with us.

    We love you, Tim!! Stay in touch!

    -Samantha Grant

    p.s. – Tim, I’ve been working on catching a G.C. penguin for you, but they are quite elusive. I’m working on my penguin call and will keep you updated in my progress.

  • Hiking out of the Grand Canyon on the Bright Angel trail, gaining roughly 5,000 feet of elevation over 9 miles, was an epic day for everyone on the Leading the Way team. Tim’s determination to dig in and give it everything he had as the day got longer and hotter ultimately led to his success in reaching the rim. He was an inspiration to the entire team and I will remember him on this day forever. I have had many amazing experiences as a Global Explorers Expedition Leader, but this is one I am particularly grateful to have been a part of!

  • I was a housemate of Tim’s at the Carroll Center for the Blind in 2013. It didn’t take me but a few minutes after talking with him, to know he is a very special, determined, intelligent and funny kid! He gives me and others reason to be inspired by all he is and all he does! Congratulations Timmy, not just to you, but to your parents too, who give you the wings to fly through each moment of your life! xoxoxo

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