Conners looks to ‘Redefine Possible’ as cross-country bike trek nears end

At age 15, Conners was diagnosed with t-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. It left him blind and very sick. He had a bone marrow transplant and gradually recovered.

His story since then has been one of inspiration and achievement. After high school, he graduated summa cum laude from Ithaca College with a degree in communications. He has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, has raised money for charities, and has become a sought-after motivational speaker.

Next challenge for Fulton’s Conners? Bike across America

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Lanigan Student Congress Volunteers to “Sparkle-A-Park”

FULTON, NY – Members of Lanigan Elementary School’s Student Congress each brought a friend and gathered at Fulton’s Patrick Park to clean and beautify the playground.

Students in grades third through sixth worked together to remove trash and debris, rake leaves and grass, pull weeds, and plant flowers just as they had previously at Recreation Park.

Members of the school’s Student Congress have one representative for each classroom and one senator for each grade.

“We meet so we can improve our school and improve our community,” said Halina Cole, a third grade classroom representative.

Students in the school’s Student Congress act as a voice for their peers and are available for their classmates to approach with problems or concerns.

To be elected, interested students had to run an election campaign complete with a speech for their classmates to then vote.

They hold monthly meetings to discuss ideas to promote school and community pride as well as encourage positive behavior through initiatives such as a school-wide anti-bullying campaign and a good behavior passport.

“The Student Congress works together to coordinate projects to help our school and community. It’s a tool to help them become civic-minded and to teach them how our government works, that it’s not only a service but a duty,” said Langian Principal Jeff Hendrickson.

The students brainstormed the idea to adopt a local park and had help from Principal Hendrickson, AmeriCorps member Tim Conners, and their teachers to follow through with action.

“We chose this so people can actually have fun and enjoy themselves at the park. More people will come if it’s clean and safe,” Cole said. “We feel proud and accomplished making our community safer. Even though it’s a small thing, we’ve made a big difference.”

Students in Congress are hopeful to continue their initiative to adopt-a-park each year, while sixth graders are hopeful to bring the initiative to the Junior High next year.

“We want to inspire people so they can see this and start doing the same thing,” Cole said.

As the students work to inspire others, they found help from their own inspiration.

Lanigan students are familiar with Tim Conners, not just as a friendly face in the hallways, but through his recent fundraiser deemed “MounTim Possible” in which Conners raised money for months prior to his summit of Africa’s highest point, Mount Kilimanjaro.

The money raised was donated to several organizations that Conners said saved his life during and after his intense battle with cancer (T­cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia) that not only left him physically blind, but with a newfound vision of life without limits.

His story was a popular one for the hometown hero. As an entire community rallied behind him in support, these young students were engaged with his story from the very beginning.

Now, Conners gives back to the same students that look up to him through his service with AmeriCorps.

“I wanted to get involved with this because it really exemplified what the AmeriCorps program is about- people coming together, volunteering for community betterment. I wanted to come here with the kids, help them out, and inspire them to really want to give back to their community,” said Conners, working the 900-hour AmeriCorps program at Lanigan.

“This is really about them. I just got involved to help them bring their idea to a reality. It’s exciting to help empower the next generation of people that will be serving our community. It’s good to see younger kids getting involved, being community oriented, and serving for the betterment of everyone. These kids are our future,” Conners said.

Don Patrick Jr., Third Ward councilor and the City of Fulton’s Common Council President, said he is pleased to have this fine group of students to look forward to as the city’s future.

“These kids are really taking ownership of the park, and that’s what matters. If they see someone litter or being destructive, they’re going to say something because when you own something, you’re proud of it. You take care of it. And that’s what these kids are doing,” Patrick said.

Patrick Park, while located in the ward Don Patrick Jr. represents, has a much more personal connection to the councilman.

“My uncles, Percy and Ken Patrick, donated the land for this park years ago,” he said. Since his time on the Common Council, Don Patrick Jr. has worked with community sponsors such as Sunoco and Dr. Juan Lopez to get new playground equipment.

Make-A-Wish Central New York Prepares for 2017 Sugarman Law Firm Wish Ball

Syracuse, NY (August 10, 2017)—

Make-A-Wish Central New York is gearing up for its annual Sugarman Law Firm Wish Ball, a gala event to support wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions.

This year’s masquerade-themed ball will take place Sept. 16, 2017 from 5:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. at The Oncenter, 800 South State Street, Syracuse. The evening Wish Ball 2017features a cocktail hour, sit-down dinner, and a program celebrating wishes. Other highlights include a wine pull, silent auction, high-end basket raffle, and entertainment provided by the “Jess Novak Band.”

Featured speaker for the event is wish kid Tim Conners, whose wish to meet blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer ( came true in 2012. From fighting for his life and losing his vision to cancer, to experiencing a wish-come-true, to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, Tim knows well the impact a wish can have on a child in the midst of illness and treatment. He will share his powerful and inspiring journey at Wish Ball, and convey his message to those facing daunting challenges: You are not your circumstances, and with perseverance you will succeed. To view video clips of Tim’s Mount Kilimanjaro climb – an event inspired by his 2012 wish – visit

During Wish Ball, Make-A-Wish Central New York will also honor All American Limousine and financial advisor Randall J.Wish Ball 2017 Powers for their ongoing support in making wishes come true.

Tickets are $150 and can be purchased by calling (315) 475-WISH or emailing Reservations must be made by Sept. 6.

Wish Ball is made possible through the generous support of our sponsors, including Sugarman Law Firm, Carrols, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

Tim ConnorsMake-A-Wish Central New York is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization dedicated to granting the wishes of children between the ages of 2 ½ and 18 who are living with life-threatening medical conditions. Make-A-Wish is able to continue to share the power of a wish® thanks to the generous support of individuals and corporations throughout its 15-county region, which includes Broome, Cayuga, Chenango, Cortland, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, Otsego, St. Lawrence, Tioga and Tompkins counties.

Maureen’s Hope “IBelieve” 2017

Maureen’s Hope created a new event last year, “iBelieve” to bring the community together for encouragement and positivity.

President of Maureen’s Hope, Susan Bertrand says this year’s event will have diverse speakers for various topics. She says that people will be able to connect with these speakers because they are opening themselves up and becoming vulnerable as they share their stories.

In between the speakers, the event will feature ballet dancers and a LeMoyne College a cappella group to help lighten the mood.

One of the speakers, Bryan Morgan, will be holding an interactive session that deals with how motion and exercise can change a person’s mood. Morgan says that when you wake up in the morning and know you are going to have a good day, your body language will show it. He also says that if you are slouched down, with your head hanging, you are going to be in a negative state of mind.

Tim Conners will also be speaking at the event about overcoming challenges. At 15, he was diagnosed with cancer, losing his eyesight as a result, almost dying and then coming back from it all. He is now about to graduate Ithaca College with a 3.9 GPA and plans to climb the tallest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro, after graduation.

Conners says that he received so much support when he was sick that he wanted to give back. As he climbs Mount Kilimanjaro, Connors says, he will be raising $500,000 for charity organizations that not only helped save his life but helped him keep going.  

IBelieve: An Event For Inspiration and Hope will be held this Sunday, April 30th from 3pm to 6pm at the Palace Theater. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for students. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

Maureen’s Hope was originally created by Susan Bertrand in memory of her sister Maureen. It is a not for profit that offers direct support and assistance for community members who are facing the challenges of a cancer diagnosis.

Falmouth Doctor Assists Nephew In Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

“The reason I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro was for my nephew Tim Conners,” said Dr. Robert J. McGowen, a primary care physician who lives in Falmouth.

Dr. McGowen returned last Tuesday, June 6, from Africa, having climbed the mountain with his nephew and a team of four others, which included Tim Conners’s father, Michael Conners.

The team had the same goal—to help Tim Conners, who is blind, reach the top.

“It was about the journey, not the destination,” Dr. McGowen said. “If I didn’t make it to the top, it didn’t matter. I was there to help the young man achieve what he wanted to achieve.”

Mr. Conners, who is 21 and a recent graduate of Ithaca College, is also a cancer survivor. Diagnosed with a rare leukemia at age 15, the cancer later relapsed, attacking his optic nerve and costing him his sight. Also, the chemotherapy treatment left permanent nerve damage to his feet and resulted in renal, cardiac and adrenal gland damage.

About a year ago Mr. Conners decided he wanted to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds for the organizations that had helped him during his sickness, Dr. McGowen said. Mr. Conners joined with K2 Adventures Foundation, which helps people with disabilities meet their adventure goals.

Dr. McGowen, who is 60, was not an avid hiker before the climb and trained to prepare for the trip locally and in the Rocky Mountains.

The team also included Kevin Cherilla with K2 Adventures Foundation; Alex Lerma, a videographer; and Robert Brace, a climbing and wilderness response expert.

Mr. Conners was inspired to make the climb after he met Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind climber to reach the summit of Mount Everest, Dr. McGowen said.

When Mr. Conners called his uncle with the idea, Dr. McGowen was circumspect.

“I called him back,” Dr. McGowen said. “This is crazy.”

But Dr. McGowen said he was moved by his nephew’s courage and determination and told Mr. Conners that if he was going, he would support him in any way.

The team flew into Kilimanjaro International Airport and stayed in the hotel the first night, heading to the mountain base about 45 minutes away the next morning.

For the ascent, which took seven days, the team enlisted three local guides. Dr. McGowen said that most people take about five or six days to make it to the top. The descent took about two days but required more motivation at times because everyone was tired.

The main challenge was directing Mr. Conners up the mountain, Dr. McGowen said. Each team member took turns guiding Mr. Conners’s hands and feet as he climbed.

Dr. McGowen was there to manage Mr. Conners’s medical needs. Mr. Conners takes about 20 pills a day. More importantly Dr. McGowen administered the stress hormones that Mr. Conners’s damaged adrenal gland could not make. The levels needed changed depending on the weather and the exertion required that day.

There were tough moments.

“His dad and Kevin gave him emotional support,” Dr. McGowen said. “Often I was the naysayer. More than a couple of times I was saying, ‘We’ve got to get off this mountain.’”

An especially tricky part was the Barranco Wall, a steep climb up a rock surface.

“It was kind of frightening at times,” Dr. McGowen said. “Tim couldn’t see. He didn’t have the same fear.”

Mr. Conners had his hand on a team member in front of him and another behind him was holding onto his backpack.

The cold and trying to consume enough calories were other challenges, Dr. McGowen said.

The climb starts in a rainforest at the base and at 13,000 feet it was snowing. The elevation of the mountain is 19,341 feet. At night the temperature dropped to the teens.

Dr. McGowen, who had not done endurance athletics before, was surprised how much he needed to eat to sustain himself. They also needed to drink about two to four liters a day.

“If I didn’t shove in every calorie I could get, I would be fatigued,” Dr. McGowen said.

Staff at the camps cooked and prepared food that was high in carbohydrates and a little meat. Dr. McGowen said he learned to like potatoes a little more.

The group was not alone on the mountain. On any given night there would be about 70 to 100 people staying at the camp, Dr. McGowen said.

Dr. McGowen described being short of breath as they approached the summit. Every step took effort. He did not stay at the top for long as he suffered from mild altitude sickness.

“I was barely remembering what I was saying,” Dr. McGowen said.

However, the trip was all about Mr. Conners’s success at reaching the summit, which he did. Dr. McGowen saw his nephew exhibit the same strength to conquer the mountain as he did with his cancer.

“His ability to reach into himself [for strength],” Dr. McGowen said. “This is what I remember most about him on the journey.”

Despite the success of the trip Dr. McGowen is not ready to tackle another mountain anytime soon.

“I don’t see any more mountains in my future,” Dr. McGowen said.

Fulton cancer survivor summits Africa’s highest mountain

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — It is an emotional homecoming for Tim Conners and his dad that has been years in the making.

“Just to be there seven years ago and him to tell me you have cancer to us standing on the highest mountain on the top of Africa. What a journey,” Conners said.

Loved ones, including his dog, Lang, welcomed Tim home after he reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

After beating cancer that stole his sight, Tim has been on a mission to overcome the seemingly impossible.

“I can’t see we’re at the top. I know we’re at the top. People are telling me you’re at the top, but then when I reach out and touch the sign that’s like the real moment for me. Like we’re there. We did this,” Conners said.

After 18 months of planning and 53 hours of climbing, Tim and his team, which included his dad and uncle, reached the top.

Tim said it is still to soon to grasp the gravity of his journey.

He did it to raise awareness and money for all of the charities that helped him beat his illness.

“And to have him pay it forward is the thing I’m most proud of. We saw a lot of kids along the way that didn’t make it and family members who have been beaten by cancer and time does it for all of them,” Betsy Conners, Tim’s mother, said.

The climb was for Tim was grueling.

Cancer and the treatment that followed has left his body vulnerable to the elements.

“We had a lot of support, a lot of perseverance and a lot of love along the way and with all those things combined, we as a group were able to do this,” Conners said.

Blind man overcomes challenges to climb Mount Kilimanjaro

One Central New York blind man’s journey has been full of highs and lows, but now he’s reached a peak many won’t experience in their lifetime. “To be there seven years ago, for them to tell me ‘you have cancer’ to us standing on the top of the highest mountain in Africa, what a journey,” said Tim Conners.   Tim was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 after doctors found a tumor the size of a small football in his chest; his cancer eventually leading to even more challenges.   “The cancer infiltrated his optic nerves and that’s what caused him to go blind,” said Betsy Conners, Tim’s mom.   But his challenges fueled his strength; Tim set a goal to make the more than week-long trek with his father up Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peek in Africa.   “I can’t see we’re at the top, I know we’re at the top, people are telling me we’re at the top, but then when I reached out and touched the sign, that’s like the real moment for me. Like we’re there. We did this. We’re at the top,” said Tim.   “You know, I was crying too much at that point. It was very emotional, I mean, seven, eight years ago, I couldn’t get him to stand out of a chair. Physically couldn’t do it,” said Michael Conners, Tim’s dad.   A moment that will bond a father and son forever and inspire all to see that anything is possible.   Tim’s mom says she’s not sure what he plans on doing next, but she draws the line at climbing Mount Everest.