When Tim Conners collected his wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation in 2012 at the age of 18, he was blind from childhood leukemia that had spread to his optic nerve. A football player and wrestler who’d never been an outdoorsman, he asked to meet Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind person to climb the Seven Summits – the highest mountains on seven continents.
Conners’ wish came true. He had 2½ terrifying but transformative days of outdoor adventures in Colorado with Weihenmayer, who lost his sight to a degenerative eye disorder at 13. Now, Conners is training to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the 19,000-foot peak in Tanzania, shortly after he graduates from Ithaca College in May.
“In a lot of ways,” Conners, now 22, says, “losing my sight gave me my vision.”
Conners’ journey began on April 3, 2010, when he was diagnosed at the Syracuse pediatric hospital near his home with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Conners had T-cell ALL, a very aggressive subset that required intense chemotherapy to push his leukemia into remission. But it was back three months later, this time in his eyes. Surgery failed to save Conners’ sight.