Climbing Kilimanjaro: Graduating Senior, Blind Cancer Survivor to Summit for Charity
Beginning May 26, and each day they’re on Kilimanjaro, Tim and his team will be doing a live video chat at 5 p.m. Tanzanian time (10 a.m. EST). The conversation can be viewed at the K2 Adventures Facebook page.
Ascending is just something Tim Conners does, in spite of the obstacle before him. So trekking up Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak on the African continent and among the seven tallest mountains in the world, should be just another checkmark on his list of accomplishments.
But it’s important to know how far he’s climbed already to understand the true significance of the feat.
At 15, Conners was diagnosed with a blood cancer known as T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, already in its advanced stages. Aggressive chemotherapy saved his life, but remission was brief and the disease returned to eventually rob him of his eyesight.
But Conners survived, though radiation, chemo and a bone marrow transplant all took a toll and left their effects on his body. He went on to graduate high school, and deep-dived into his time at Ithaca College as an engaged student, active member of numerous clubs, and advocate for accessibility. On May 21, the 22-year-old will walk with his guide dog Lang during IC’s Commencement to accept his degree in communications. The next day he’ll set out for Tanzania and Kilimanjaro.
“Kili” rises over 19,300 feet above sea level. Conners, who has been working toward a career as a motivational speaker, acknowledges there’s a clear symbolism to his journey.
“At first [climbing Kilimanjaro] was really just about that in a lot of ways. To kind of show that I wasn’t just a one-hit wonder; that cancer wasn’t my story,” Conners said.
Gradually, though, his real purpose behind the trek — which he dubbed MounTimPossible — took shape, and it became a fundraising effort for several organizations that played a crucial role in his life since the cancer diagnosis.
“I really like to pay it forward. So many people and organizations have helped me get to where I am today,” he said.