Bone Cancer Survivor on Cross Country Journey Stops in Evansville

Bone cancer survivor Cody O'Connor is making his way across the country, walking from Times Square to Los Angeles. His goal is to raise money and awareness for pediatric cancer. On Wednesday morning, he arrived in Evansville, and was joined by Evansville Police Officers for a five mile stroll from Wesselman Park on the east side to the Four Freedoms Monument in the city.

Posted: Sep 15, 2021 10:27 PM

Cody O'Connor was 14-years-old when he was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma, a form of born cancer.

With the diagnosis, came a chilling warning from doctors...

"At the end of my battle I lost my whole fibula," O'Connor said. "And was told, 'I wouldn't walk normal again.'"

It was struggle for his parents, raising seven kids and caring for his medical bills.

"Eviction, divorce, wondering where food was coming from," O'Connor said of the hardships.

Now, he is a 25-year-old cancer survivor on a cross-country walking trek, making his way from Times Square to Los Angeles, raising money for pediatric cancer patients, as apart of his walk for life.

"As I was laying in the hospital I had this idea, 'why isn't there an organization or what can we do to help benefit the siblings of cancer patients,'" O'Connor said. "And that kind of turned into a larger picture that we have today which is Champions Do Overcome, which directly goes to try to build up the whole family unit during the cancer battle."

He started his journey on June 17th in New York. Most recently, he was in Louisville and it took him one week to walk the over 100 miles to make it to Evansville. Here, he'll be staying in a donated room at the Durry Inn.

"Until then we were sleeping in parking lots," O'Connor said. "Police parking lots."

He and his travel companions, his girlfriend and one of his best friends, who follow behind him in a car documenting his walk, have also been chased by dogs and dealt with cantankerous drivers. But they say it's been worth it to meet so many wonderful people.

Now Evansville Police Officers were originally supposed to be on the west side of Evansville, for their Walking Wednesday program, but when they found out O'Conner was going to be in the River City, they decided to immediately change their plans, walking with him five miles from Wesselman Park all the way to the Four Freedoms Monument.

"It's amazing just that he can do this," said Evansville Police Officer Taylor Merriss. "He's overcome so much and that's proof throughout our city that kids here who are struggling with cancer can do it as well."

O'Connor had a blast walking with the officers, who gifted him a Childhood Cancer Awareness Patch, which they just got brand new last week.

"Between Walking Wednesday, Cody walking through Evansville and our cancer patches, it just worked out perfectly," Officer Merriss said.

Saturday, O'Connor will be a special guest at a University of Evansville soccer game.

While he'll only be in the River City a few short days, he is hopeful he is able to make an impact.

"This is not a race. I'm not an Olympic athlete," he said. "I'm not even supposed to be able to do this, so we're really trying to be in these communities, network and meet new people so we can make that full impact with kids and families with people across this whole nation."

To follow more of Cody O'Connor's journey, visit: www.ChampionsDoOvercome.org. 

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