Young cyclist meets Armstrong, his hero
Source: The UnionThe dream of 12-year-old Connor Ellison, a Folsom resident who suffers from a life-threatening liver disease, came true today when he met his hero Lance Armstrong, just as the Amgen Tour of California began in Nevada City today.
Like Armstrong, Ellison overcomes obstacles by blasting through them on his bike. Ellison is training for one of the most grueling sporting events in the world: the Race Across America (RAAM) – a 3,000 mile transcontinental bike trek set for June of 2010.
And just like Armstrong, Ellison iis challenging others to give of themselves so that others might live. As an ambassador for organ and tissue donation, Ellison hopes to inspire others to join his cause.
“His whole life he's been told that he can't play like the other kids,” says Connor's mother, Tiffany Ellison. “Every time he has the opportunity to prove to himself that he's strong and capable, he takes it. This is his therapy – it's his way of dealing with having a liver disease, to do the impossible, to do the things that other people say you can't do… and every time he does it, he proves to himself that ‘Yes, I am normal.'”
While registering for the local Bulldog Football League at the age of eight, doctors discovered Ellison suffers from Congenital Hepatic Fibrosis. The disease causes scar tissue to form in the liver, blocking blood flow and increasing the risk of internal bleeding.
When the local newspaper picked up the story of Ellison's possible need for a liver transplant and his shattered dream of ever playing football – the Folsom Youth Football League took notice. Though the diagnosis kept him from playing in most games, Ellison went on to be an honorary team member and ended the season by scoring a touchdown in the final game.
He then set his sights on a new goal--joining his father in riding his bike across the nation with an eight-member relay team. Connor's Dad, Jared, rides for Team Donate Life — -a cycling team dedicated to promoting organ and tissue donation.
A huge setback occurred in December, when Ellison had to undergo life-saving surgery. He was given a spleenal renal shunt to reroute blood flow to his kidney, away from his liver.
But just five weeks after his surgery, Connor was back on the bike focused on training. He is now riding nearly 200 miles a week training for RAAM.
As an ambassador for organ and tissue donation, Ellison is using his optimism and dedication to inspire others to join his cause. Supporters can follow his progress at ConnorsJourney.com and those interested in signing up to be organ and tissue donors can visit donatelifecalifornia.org.