Connor loves the feeling of playing video games as “his body isn’t sick in a video game.” Video games allow Connor the opportunity to walk, run, jump, and play - activities that became increasingly difficult following his diagnosis.
From a young age, Connor was a busy body and loved staying active, from playing video games to spending time with friends. Gaming was one of his favorite hobbies as he was drawn to interactive games like Minecraft, Amazing Frog, and Hello Neighbor.
As he continued to grow, Connor started “slowing down” and experiencing difficulties with normal motor functions. Connor became unable to keep up when playing with his little brother, causing concern in his parents. Going up the stairs, getting up, and other daily tasks became increasingly challenging. Connor’s parents began bringing Connor to numerous doctors with hopes of discovering the condition behind his symptoms, but at first, had little luck.
After countless trips to different doctors and hospitals, Connor was officially diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy in 2017 at the age of 7. Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is a degenerative neuromuscular disease that typically has symptoms of muscle weakness that quickly deteriorate, altering one’s ability to be mobile and self-sufficient. Since his diagnosis, his condition has continually worsened, causing daily life to be drastically altered. His mobility has continued to deteriorate, causing Connor to become wheelchair bound and more reliant on his parents and family. “My child's disease has changed every aspect of our lives…Every day presents new challenges, new muscle and body pains, and fewer things that he is able to do” explains Kira, Connor’s Mom.
After getting connected with Make-A-Wish, Connor was referred and his official wish process finally began. Connor’s love for gaming become apparent when first meeting with his Wish Granters Dawn and Brittnay, and they knew that a cool gaming space would be the perfect wish for Connor. Connor has always loved video games, but as Connor’s condition progressed, his ability to game was majorly impacted. It became more difficult to push the controller buttons, causing frustration and inability to effectively play the games he loved. It was apparent that not just any video gaming set-up would suffice for Connor to continue to play.
Make-A-Wish North Dakota researched potential solutions, which led to finding Able Gamers Charity, an innovative group that strives to make video games accessible to all ranging abilities. This was the perfect fit to create a gaming setup that would be custom built to enable Connor to play for many years to come.
Finally, after months of planning, it was time for Connor’s wish to be granted. Leaving the house for an afternoon with family, Connor was excited to enjoy the day, but little did he know, his wish was in full swing. While Connor enjoyed his afternoon, a team of Wish Granters, Best Buy Geek Squad, and other volunteers converged on the house to start creating Connor’s unique set-up. Wanting to create the full experience for Connor, the crew assembled his new space and created revealing party that Connor would never forget.
After his fun afternoon with his family and a close family friend, Connor ventured back home. He was met by a surprise party that was well hidden as “he had no idea he was coming home to a house full of family and friends!” The Wish Granting crew pulled out all the stops to ensure Connor was met with some of his favorite things like cupcakes and chocolate covered strawberries shaped like his favorite character Jack from the Nightmare Before Christmas. Connor was elated at all aspects of the surprise party - his wish had finally coming true!
The party was a ton of fun, but it was the big surprise of checking out his new very own gaming space that he was most excited about. Connor’s gaming system was custom built to his current abilities as well as with his future abilities as his condition continues to progress. The controller system is set up specifically for Connor from a handheld control to playing his system with his eyes and mouthpiece that is controlled by his breath.
Following his wish, Connor’s abilities have continued to deteriorate, but that hasn’t stopped him from utilizing his new space and gaming systems. Thanks to Able Gamers Charity, his gaming setup will remain fully functional as his conditions continue to progress, allowing him to maintain his love for gaming.“It meant happiness. It gave him something to look forward to each day...it's the perfect distraction from his disease. As a mom, it means the world to me to see him smile and look forward to getting up and out of bed,” says Connor’s Mom. Connor’s gaming space will continue to provide him with his own space to escape from the treatments and his condition, and allows him to continue his passion of video games.