Fulton, N.Y. — The best game of Tim Conners’ senior year at G. Ray Bodley High School in Fulton was one his football team lost.
Conners – six- feet- two -inches tall and 220 pounds – played center, snapping the ball only three times. Fulton drove 60 yards on those plays.
“You could just hear everybody yelling and screaming. The whistles were blowing,” Conners said.
But he couldn’t see a thing.
The 18-year-old Fulton teen lost his sight to cancer in 2010. That football game, which Fulton lost 35 to 7 to Nottingham High, was his first time back on the field. The coaches from both teams worked it out ahead of time: no one would touch Conners.
Conners didn’t get to play in a game again. But today, he will graduate with the rest of his class. He is ranked seventh. When he takes that diploma in his hand, it will be more than an affirmation that he’s a high school graduate. It is a victory against a cancer that at one point had his family gathered around him, saying their last I love yous.
When Conners was 15, he struggled with what a doctor first thought were sinus infections. Then he started having other strange symptoms: half of his face was paralyzed when he had his wisdom teeth removed. On April 3, 2010, doctors found a tumor the size of a football in his chest. He had his first round of chemotherapy that same day.
Chemo had that cancer under control within months, but in July 2010, Conners found out the cancer was back and had spread to his optic nerve. He’d been seeing strange shadows for a while.