News

Local Leukemia Survivor Honored at Colts Game

The story of a former Huntington North football player.

By Ryan Walker, Staff Writer

The story of former high school football player Conner West isn’t something that happens every day — it’s an extraordinary story. We’ve all known someone who has been injured and was taken out of their sport for an extended amount of time. Conner’s experience was not as simple as an injury.

West was going into his junior year of football as a lineman for Huntington North High School, doing what he loved the most. But in 2016, he noticed some strange things happening to him during practices and workouts.

“The last few football practices, I didn’t have a lot of energy. I got tired quicker,” West said, “before we played our sectional game were doing snakes [a running exercise] and normally I was finishing close to first with the linemen, but this time I was second to last.”

The unusualness didn’t stop there; West noticed that he would even get tired during normal things, like walking to class carrying his books. This concerned him.

He and his family called a doctor to see what was going on and did blood work to see if they could catch anything that wasn’t right. The following day, they sent him to the hospital to receive the results of the blood work. They told Conner that he was diagnosed with Leukemia.

“It was kind of shocking,” West said, “you always know it’s a possibility, but you never thought it would happen to you.”

Later that week, he started chemotherapy, and later learned that he would have his senior season of football taken away. Everything was being taken away from him as he went on through his junior year of high school.

Doctors later found out that Conner would need a bone marrow, and they found the perfect match right away: Conner’s brother, Jordan. Jordan was both the perfect match and helped Conner through the entire process. Conner expressed his gratefulness for Jordan’s support.

Conner is back to doing what he wants to do: attending classes at Huntington University and rooting on his favorite football teams. But West was able to do something special thanks to the Riley Hospital for Children.

“There is a bell at Riley where you ring it whenever you’re done with treatment, it’s the signal to the end,” West said. “The Colts contacted Riley to see if they had anyone that would be interested in ringing the bell. And my one doctor said that as soon as they heard that, they knew I would want to do it because I’m a big football fan. So, the social media person messaged my mom, and it happened.”

And West did a little more than ring the bell; he broke it!

“I didn’t have the handle right, and it just kind of flipped off and fell on the ground because it broke. It’s sitting back at my house right now.

This story is heartwarming to hear — Conner is doing well academically and is motivated in his studies. He can now put everything in the past and start over. His fun personality and humor is contagious to his classmates, friends, and family. He has an amazing spirit, and by the grace of God is able to continue living.

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