Poudre High School senior Connor Walsh is the kind of guy who considers making people laugh a hobby – not that he needs to pad his resume with superfluous extracurriculars.
In addition to his comedic skills, he’s also a wiz at shooting hoops, horseback riding and handcycling. Soon, the adventure-loving teen will be on stage at Moby Arena accepting his high school diploma – a milestone that was delayed by a life-changing accident three years ago.
At 16, Connor should have been gearing up for an adventure-filled Colorado summer. Instead, he was in a hospital room, grinding his way through a long recovery that began when a driver cruising down Laporte Avenue fell asleep at the wheel and plowed into him as he was walking to school. The impact left him paralyzed from the waist down.
“Near the beginning, I had a few moments where I wanted to just give up and roll back into traffic,” Connor said. “Those moments happen, but you’ve got to just get through them.”
While he recovered, Connor found new role models to guide him.
He discovered his passion for horseback riding, figured out how he could remain the active teen he had been, and joined a wheelchair basketball team.
Now, as he wraps up his high school career, he’s eyeing Division I schools with strong wheelchair basketball teams – he never considered collegiate athletes before the accident – and has dreams of returning to Fort Collins after college to open an accessible bar and grill.
"If you want to change the world, you have to go outside, and go do something,” he said. “Don’t sit back and wish. … Everybody does that. The only way to change the world is to actually go out in it.”