Unlike most 21 year olds, Connor had a rather unconventional birthday celebration planned. Instead of throwing a party, Connor rode his bike more than 40 miles on some of Colorado’s toughest mountain passes. And instead of inviting his closest friends, he celebrated alongside 2,000 fellow riders at the Courage Classic to raise funds for Children’s Hospital Colorado.
Connor is the captain of a 25-person team raising money to support the Anna and John J. Sie Center for Down syndrome at Children's Colorado, one of the largest pediatric medical care centers for Down syndrome in the world.
Connor is no stranger to the Sie Center. He’s been receiving treatment at Children’s Colorado since his family moved to Colorado in 2006.
“Children’s Colorado is cutting-edge, but we’ve realized that it’s also a true community,” said Connor’s mom, Sherrill. “They don’t just treat you and send you on your way. They maintain the continuity of care to ensure that the kids they treat are growing up to meet their highest potential.”
For Connor, that potential seems to be limitless. In addition to being a skilled cyclist, he is also a talented swimmer who has won medals in Colorado’s Special Olympics Summer Games four years in a row. More recently, Connor has taken up Taekwondo and rock climbing.
Beyond his athletic successes, Connor is also an accomplished actor and singer with some impressive film credentials. In 2013, he won the best actor award at the Filmstock Film Festival for his starring role in “Menschen,” an independent film about the Nazi’s euthanasia program during the Holocaust. Connor has also performed in local productions of “Hamlet” and “Seussical the Musical,” and he just wrapped up filming in New York City and Denver for two separate feature films. In his spare time, he likes to write poetry and compose music.
When he’s not pursuing his many passions, Connor is working to help others follow their dreams. In addition to being a long-time ambassador for the National Down Syndrome Society, Connor was recently a key proponent of the Colorado ABLE Act, a bi-partisan bill passed last session that allows eligible participants to retain access to essential social support services while at the same time saving for key expenses – like health care, housing and higher education – through a tax-free savings account that functions like a 529 college savings plan. As a result of his advocacy efforts, Connor was the recipient of this year’s Global Down Syndrome Foundation's Leadership Award.
Connor says the support he’s received through Children’s Colorado has been a big part of his many successes. Riding in the Courage Classic is his way of paying it forward.
“I like riding a lot, because it helps me with my stamina and my health,” said Connor. “Plus, I like helping the people who have helped me.”
Adds his mother: “We help Children’s Colorado so they can help other people – so that other kids can do amazing things like Connor and go on to live amazing lives.”