BRISTOL - On the athletic field behind South Side Elementary School Thursday evening, fourth-grader Connor Albert took his place on a walkway of decorated luminaria bags. Physical education teacher Lisa Galske called for any cancer survivors present to join him, and everyone else to circle the field and join hands.
Then Connor and the group with him slowly made their way around the walkway, to a track of Mariah Carey’s “Hero.”
South Side’s Community Club organized the Warrior Walk to raise money for Connor’s family to help with their expenses from his battle with Osteosarcoma.
Ten-year-old Connor, who is often known as Captain Connor for his love of Captain America, was diagnosed with a tumor on his femur over a year ago. He has been getting treatment and being tutored at home ever since.
“He is doing really well,” said his mother, Kelly Albert. “He is continuing with his physical therapy, meeting all of his goals and exceeding them. He is still going through chemo, his [blood] counts do get knocked down quite a bit but with transfusions and time and rest, we bring them back up. His energy level can be low at times but he just takes it easy and he knows his own limits.”
“He would have liked to have been back in school at the beginning of the year, but unfortunately with his counts and his immune system being compromised, we have to take it as it comes. But hopefully he will be soon,” she said.
“He was very psyched to be here today, it’s very exciting,” she added.
The event began with Christian Stafford, a former South Side student, singing the National Anthem. Volunteers were selling pizza slices, popcorn, lemonade, ice cream and blue wristbands with the words “Cheers for Captain Connor.”
“This is our first year running this event,” said Patricia Zadrozny, library media assistant and co-advisor with Galske to the Community Club. “If it’s well received then we hope to make it an annual event and open it to the public.”
“Over the past month we have sent home notices,” Galske said. “Families could decorate the luminaria bags to raise awareness of cancer. Now the students walk around the bags to celebrate a healthy life and honor those who are battling cancer or cancer survivors, as a sort of mini Relay for Life.”
“Everything we are selling is donated. There was no charge for the luminarias,” added Zadozny. “They could give any donation they wanted to.”
“Teachers at Bristol Eastern High School have a Relay for Life team that they started in Connor’s name, so some of the money from today will go to that team and all the rest will go to Connor’s family,” she continued.
“The whole school was invited, and I think a good part of the school is here because they were abuzz with excitement all day over this,” Zadrozny said.
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.