Archive for Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Linenberger: Here’s to the graduate

April 21, 2010

Connor Olson spoke a few months ago at a Southern Leavenworth County Leadership Development class about his battle with bone cancer.

Connor being Connor, his positivity shined through as he told of his story. After he spoke, I told him that if his education requirements ever involved a public speaking course, he clearly could test out of the class, as he was a natural in front of a crowd.

He received his high school diploma during a special ceremony Thursday at Tonganoxie High School, which was much-deserved pomp in the face of an unfortunate circumstance. After the ceremony, I reflected on him speaking to the leadership class and once again was reminded of what a true leader he really is.

Leaders persevere. Check.

Leaders inspire others. Check.

Leaders are selfless. Check.

It’s not been an easy road for Connor since being diagnosed with bone cancer more than a year ago, but the THS senior could be seen with a smile often.

Pictures captured by The Mirror are testament to that. He was crowned Homecoming king and stood alongside other seniors during Senior Night festivities in the fall for the THS soccer team. Connor was all grins.

It wasn’t the same scene at his graduation ceremony, as Connor had suffered a stroke days before. Though his communication that day mostly was nonverbal, the thumbs up gesture he made after THS principal Jamie Carlisle inquired whether he was ready to receive his diploma spoke thousands of words.

During the ceremony, Carlisle spoke about Connor being offered a wish through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. His wish was to go to Australia because it’s somewhere his father hadn’t visited yet.

Wow. Talk about selfless.

Connor’s ceremony triggered me to take inventory of my life and be pretty thankful for what I have and who I have in my life. We all have trials and tribulations but Connor’s story assists me personally in taking a step back and reassessing a situation. Complaining is replaced with contemplating how I can better improve a situation. A long day at the office is now met with doing a project or activity in the evening. We all need to take time to relax, but we also need to make the most of what time we do have.

Sure, I’ll still complain and I’ll probably put off things on my to-do list. But Connor is reason enough to make every effort to reduce the frequency of both.

Congratulations to Connor Olson, Class of 2010.

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