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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.
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 features 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 (www.touchthetop.com) 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 www.mountimpossible.com.
During Wish Ball, Make-A-Wish Central New York will also honor All American Limousine and financial advisor Randall J. Powers for their ongoing support in making wishes come true.
Tickets are $150 and can be purchased by calling (315) 475-WISH or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Make-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 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 maureenshope.org.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
ITHACA — Tim Conners, the Fulton native whose battle against cancer spurred a campaign to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro in support of multiple charities, has released his first book chronicling his inspirational journey.
Conners, 22, was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic lymphoma in 2010 during his freshman year of high school. The disease would take his sight, and the grueling treatment isolated him from all but his closest family as his immune system recovered.
But Conners refused to give up — he beat his cancer, and in so doing gained a perspective on life he felt was his privilege and duty to share.
Conners will graduate this spring from Ithaca College with a degree in Communication Studies and has spent the last few years cris-crossing the United States as a featured speaker at conferences and symposiums.
“Ever since everything I’ve faced, people have joked around and said I should write a book and I always thought, ‘yeah, I’ll do that,’ but never did,” Conners said.
With his busy schedule as a motivational speaker and full-time student, work on the project came in fits and starts, but in the late summer, he was finally able to concentrate his efforts on crafting his story.
“I took what I had learned in my life about accomplishing what I wanted, and I decided I didn’t want my book to be talk anymore. I was going to do it,” Conners said.
Earlier this month, Conners released that book, entitled “It’s Impossible Until You Do It,” which tells his story and lays out his unique philosophy from a life steeped in challenges and hope.
Conners said the book contains what he calls “enlightening tools to overcome adversity and be successful, no matter what that is.”
“It’s important for people to read it and reflect and take a different outlook on how they see their world,” Conners added.
Throughout his travels, Conners developed his ambitious plan to raise funds and awareness for five organizations he says helped him through his recovery to support other battling similar circumstances.
One of Conners’ mentors has been Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind man to climb Mount Everest. While spending time with Weihenmayer, Conners came up with his own plan — to summit Africa’s highest peak.
He founded the MounTimPossible, his fundraising organization dedicated to what he calls “The Mission” — traveling to Tanzania to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.
The journey is planned for next summer and will no doubt be arduous, but with all Conners has overcome in the past, it’s unlikely anything will stand in his way.
“I knew I wanted to include my story of overcoming cancer,” said Conners about writing the book. “I knew I wanted to include information people could apply to their lives that I learned firsthand worked; and I knew I wanted most of all to create something that was going to help people all over the world in their lives so they could overcome their own challenges.”
Conners will donate portions of the proceeds from his book, along with other sustained fundraising efforts “The Mission” will generate exposure for, to The Make-A-Wish Foundation, Golisano Children’s Hospital, No Barriers, The Joe Andruzzi Foundation and Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation.
“It’s Impossible Until You Do It” is self-published by Conners and his family and available for purchase on Amazon.com.
For more information about Tim and the organizations his Mount Kilimanjaro odyssey seeks to support, visit www.mountimpossible.com.