FULTON — Weeks away from embarking on the centerpiece event of what he calls “The Mission,” Fulton native Tim Conners says he’s ramping up both his training and the campaign of awareness and fundraising for a journey that once seemed out of the realm of possibility.
Conners, 22, lost his sight and very nearly his life in a years-long battle with cancer when he was still in high school. Now, he’s got his mind set on reaching another mountaintop.
In May, Conners and a small group of family, friends and mountaineering professionals will fly to Tanzania, intent on summiting Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak.
For the last year, Conners and his foundation, MounTimPossible, have been fundraising not just for the trip, but also to donate $10,000 to four non-profit groups he says helped him through his illness and recovery.
“We’re connecting with people, getting the word out, booking different speaking engagements and raising this money for these groups,” Conners said. “Sometimes things don’t seem to be falling into place, or we’re moving forward at a rate where we think we won’t get there, but we always end up hitting our goals.”
Conners said he and his team have reached their target of raising $59,750 by March 18. That includes travel and guide costs, as well as the $40,000 total to donate to charity.
Last year, Conners also published a book titled “It’s Impossible Until You Do It: Succeeding in the Face of Adversity,” chronicling his fight and victory over T-cell acute lymphoblastic lymphoma and the lessons and effects it left him with.
Proceeds from the book are going towards “The Mission,” defined as “climb a mountain, live life fully, make a difference and redefine possible.”
That mission includes raising a total of $500,000 for the organizations No Barriers USA, The Joe Andruzzi Foundation, the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital and the Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation.
In anticipation of his trek up Kilimanjaro, Conners has been training relentlessly, spending six hours at a time on a Nordic Track machine to simulate the rigors of the climb.
That’s a long way from where Conners was in 2010, when after a bone marrow transplant and nearly a year in isolation to reboot his immune system, he could barely take several steps unassisted.
“Every day Tim is here, he’s on borrowed time and he’s defeated the odds, so every day is a gift,” said Tim’s mother, Betsy Conners.
Tim Conners said his itinerary to summit Kilimanjaro will take approximately nine days.
Tim’s father Mike Conners will be in the group traveling to Africa in May and says light-heartedly that his “expectation is to get up and down the mountain and come back alive.”
“It will be a huge undertaking and it’s a daunting task but very exciting,” Mike Conners said. “A lot of us talk the story but Tim lives it every day and keeps moving forward when many others would lay down and stop.”
“He’s an inspiration to me and many others,” he added.