August 14, 2012
Earlier this year, I was contacted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation because they had a teenager who wanted to meet me. When he was just 15 years old, Tim Conners was stricken with leukemia. He underwent three months of radiation, chemotherapy treatments, and spinal taps but they were ineffective at stopping the disease. Finally, a bone marrow transfer from his older brother, Mike, saved Tim's life. But there were many complications, one of which caused him to go blind.
Before he was stricken, Tim has a wrestler, football player and discus thrower. After months in bed, he had lost a great deal of muscle mass, which he is still working on recovering. Despite all this adversity, Tim has shown an remarkable will to not only live life as best he can but to prosper and inspire others. With so much in common--I too was a wrestler--I was looking forward to meeting Tim.
In July, Tim and his parents, Mike and Betsy, were my guests in Colorado for three days. It was a great experience for all of us! We went on zip lines, whitewater rafting, hiking, and biking. Just as important, Tim had the opportunity to ask me lots of questions on living as a blind person. Mike and Betsy are also wonderful people who have had the terrible ordeal of watching their son ravaged by leukemia.
This 10-minute video gives you a glimpse at Tim's dream. I later learned that he originally had wished to meet President Obama to discuss the plight of children's cancer research but switched to meeting me after listening to my autobiography, Touch The Top Of The World.
Thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, including volunteers Gary Poling and Amanda Morgan, for bringing the Conners to Colorado! It was a special weekend for all of us and I look forward to staying in touch with Tim and his parents. I've invited them to visit again next summer and hope they will attend the No Barriers Summit in Telluride too.
In Tim's own words:
I am back from Make a Wish and I would like to share my experiences with you all. To fill everyone in I chose to meet Erik Weihenmayer, who is also blind, and I wanted to go do different adventures with him.
Erik climbed the highest peak on every continent. Erik is a role model for me because he is also blind and he has accomplished many things. The first day me and my dad went to the creek near our hotel and went down it with tubes that he had to blow up. I love you dad and your lungs. I got separated from him on the way down the creek and it got very scary but I made it and I can look back now and say how fun it was even when the rocks hit my butt.
The second day I got to meet Erik and he came with his son Arjun, and Skyler and Clyde who worked with him. After breakfast we went zip-lining which was really fun. One part was really scary though because we crossed a rope bridge that had no handles with missing pieces that were not equally spread out. The bridge was over the Colorado River. I was so scared that I would miss a step and be hanging in my harness over the river. I guess it sounds a little less scary because we were hooked in but you had to be there. Also that day we went whitewater river rafting. The first I went through it was really scary but on the third time I had a ball. After that we went to a pizza place that sold pizza by the pound. When we got back into Golden Colorado Erik let us go check his house. I got meet his wife Ellie and his daughter Emma. In his basement he had some workout equipment, a wrestling mat, and a room with a ceiling that came to a point covered with things to grip onto for him to climb around the ceiling. Erik is like Spiderman.
The next day we went out to Erik’s ranch about 45 minutes from Golden. When we got out there we planned doing some kayaking and stand up paddling in the water but it was storming around us. We ended up going on our hike earlier. Erik gave me two trekking poles to help me navigate on our hike. After thinking I would not make to the top of the trail I made it. Then the storms got closer to us so we went inside to eat lunch. Later we went back out and hiked to a pond with crawfish in it. He had his daughter put one in my hand without telling me what it was. It was tiny and I did not get pinched. Soon after that the storm came back and the thunder was extremely loud, the water was coming down with little pieces of hail and the lightening was right near us. We rushed back to the house and put on dry clothes. Erik, I am glad you got me that Mountain Hardwear rain jacket it really came in handy.
At the house I and Erik played air hockey. When the storm cleared again I went outside to drive the ATV with Skyler guiding. I managed not to hit anything. At this rate I will have my license before I know it. Later we went back to Erik’s house in Golden and I rode a tandem bike with Skyler. It was fun but I always felt like I was going to fall off and I really had to trust Skyler. That night we all went to dinner at a restaurant called the Sherpa House. The Sherpa’s are from Nepal and they guide people up Everest. I tried some new food and we had great night.
The last day we went to a parade in Golden for Buffalo Bill day. Erik used his Seeing Eye dog to lead me and him to the parade. It was really cool how he was able to get me there without being to see with me not being able to see either. After the parade we went to the creek and Erik led me through it and his dog was in the water also playing. One of the last things we did that day was me and Erik jumped on his trampoline. Even though there were sides to it I was still scared of falling off. He also had me climb on this climbing wall he had. I hope my mother puts a picture so you all can see it because I will have trouble describing. It was a wall that you could climb only about 9 feet up but as you climbed your weight pushed the wall down and more wall came out at the top. Erik described it like a treadmill that was going upward with things to climb on. I went from barely getting a foot up to climbing and for the people who might think I am exaggerating there is a video and I saw it. Sadly after that we had to get back home.
I could not have asked for more on my Make a Wish than I received. On the trip we were with people from Make Wish. I would like to thank Denise, Brittney, Sarah, Gary, and Amanda for their help. I would also like to thank Erik, Ellie, Emma, and Arjun. Also I want to thank Skyler, Clyde and everyone else who helped my wish come true. Without Make-A-Wish this might never have been able to do this so another big thank you to the Make-A-Wish foundation. I learned a lot and these memories will last a life time. Before I end this I want everyone to know my appetite is better because one morning I had 3 eggs, 3 pieces of toast, 4 pieces of thick bacon, and a large pancake. This goes down as the longest post I have typed and I think I deserve a nap now.