DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – When Cody O’Connor was just 14-years-old, he was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that develops in and around the bones of children. But instead of letting his diagnosis keep him down, at age 25, he has decided to take a stand, or rather a walk for the cause.
“Since we have decided that we would go down a checklist of things I was told I would never do again, to spread hope, we’re starting with walking,” he said, “because I was told I would never walk normally again in my life.”
Although he was initially given a glum prognosis, O’Connor, with the support of his friends and family, is walking 3,000 miles from New York City to Los Angeles in a matter of five months.
“Doctors told me I would not be able to walk again because I’m missing my whole fibula in my right leg,” he said. “I went under the knife, not knowing if they would be able to save the first and the last inch, which deals with, you know, tendon and ligament structure. Unfortunately, the tumor went down into my ankle and they had to remove it all. So that made me very unstable,” he explained.
But not unstable enough to keep him from wanting to help others after years of watching his own family struggle. As a result of his treatment, he says his parents often had to sacrifice time with his younger siblings.
“They were missing soccer practices, eating dinner late, and my family wasn’t around for them. And I was like, ‘Well, why isn’t there an organization that can step in and do that?’ That led me to create Champions Do Overcome.“
The organization helps pay for living expenses, food, gas, and even some entertainment for families whose children are battling cancer. And with the challenges O’Connor and his family have been able to overcome, he says he wants to pass that hope onto others.
“We want this walk for hope to stand for holding onto your dreams, and believing in what you can accomplish in this world and not being held back by what others say you can’t [do],” he said. “We wanted to touch all the largest cities across the nation as we walk, and we felt that that could get the most impact and reach the kids fighting, coast to coast.”