Conner Long and his brother Cayden, who has cerebral palsy, shot to fame when they competed in the Cambridge Massachusetts Triathlon in July 2012. Through competing together in sport, Connor found a way to bond with his disabled brother – something that his parents feared he might never be able to do.
When deciding the subject matter for this blog, I often scan the news for stories of courage displayed by disabled people. It might be an item covering an incredible feet of endurance despite the challenge of cerebral palsy, which catches my eye. Alternatively, I may feel strongly about an act of discrimination and the resulting impact on the individual concerned or the disabled community at large. Either way, my posts will often centre directly on the person or people with the impairment.
There are many people with various disabilities whose amazing and often moving stories need to be told. However, in concentrating on these brave and inspiring individuals, it is always possible to overlook those who support them. Whether they be friends, family, hospitals or charities, there is a vast network of people who dedicate their lives to helping those with disabilities.
In this particular blog, I would like to draw the attention of the reader to one person in particular, whose dedication has enabled his disabled little brother to enjoy his childhood in a way, which would otherwise be denied to him.
Connor long is just nine years old. He is able-bodied and sporty and will no doubt enjoy a successful and happy life. His younger brother Cayden, however, seems likely to have a struggle ahead of him. Born two years after Connor, Cayden has severe cerebral palsy and is unable to walk and talk.
The boys’ parents were devastated to learn of their second child’s diagnosis just four months after birth. They feared that Connor and Cayden would never really be able to enjoy childhood together. Indeed, the mother of the two young brother admits that Connor found it hard to connect with Cayden at first, given the severity of his condition.
That is, until Connor saw an advertisement for a local children’s triathlon. Keen to compete with his disabled brother, Connor saw this as an opportunity to include Cayden, where others may have left him on the sidelines. Using a combination of specially adapted buggies and a small raft, Connor was able to swim, cycle and run through the stages of the New England Kids Triathlon accompanied by his brother.
Finally Connor had found an experience that the two brothers could share together and the ability to bond which he so craved. They may have finished second-to-last, but that did not matter. It was never about winning the race. It was about completing it together; about sharing a unique childhood experience which had previously been denied. Through sport, Connor was able to reach out to his younger brother, at last.
But it did not stop there. Over the past eighteen months, the Long boys have competed in numerous races. Their incredible exploits culminated in their winning of the prestigious ‘Sports Illustrated Magazine’s 2012 Sports Kids of the Year’ Award.
An emotional Connor made the acceptance speech for the award on behalf of himself and his brother. It must have been a fantastic experience to be presented with such a prize. However, for Connor, I suspect he will treasure the experience of each race with his brother far more than the accolade itself.
In simply wanting to find a connection with his brother, Connor showed the world what true commitment and brotherly love really is. His selfless devotion should be a shining example to us all. If everyone could show their fellow brothers and sisters such compassion, what a truly wonderful world this would be.
To read more about their incredible story, please follow the following links to the Huffington Post: