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Jul-22-2014 12:30printcommentsVideo

Former North Salem Cheerleader, Now Paralyzed, Says New Treatment Program Could Change His Life

A lifetime on a breathing machine and a feeding tube was not an option for Kenneth Connin.

North Salem High School Cheerleading
Kenneth Connin, back row on the left, now 22, and who now lives in Portland, Oregon, was a competitive cheerleader at North Salem High School, and is now hoping for a cheerleading section of his own. Photo: Special to Salem-News.com

(PORTLAND, Ore. ) - A former cheerleader from North Salem High School who was paralyzed in a freak accident shortly after graduation, is hoping to make it big the highly competitive fashion industry in New York City with the help of a new rehabilitation program in California.

And now he's hoping for a cheering section of his own.

Kenneth Connin, now 22, and who now lives in Portland, Oregon, was a competitive cheerleader at North Salem High School, and after high school moved to Reno, Nevada to continue his cheerleading career.

I was struggling in school, and cheerleading was a sport that I quickly fell in love with. I spent many hours in the gym working on new skills and perfecting every little thing, Connin said.

On February 5th, 2010 that is when the tragic accident took place. Connin was trying out for a cheerleading team and his tryout had gone smoothly just before they closed the gym for the night.

I decided that I wanted to try one last tumbling pass, and during this pass I did not finish my rotation and stopped upside down; which caused me to screwdriver into the floor. I instantly lost all movement and feeling below my shoulders, Connin said.

He was rushed to Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno where doctors diagnosed him with a C-4, C-5 break and complete spinal cord injury. They told me that I would never walk again and would live off the breathing machine and eat from the feeding tube for the rest of my life, he said.

But Connin decided that a lifetime on a breathing machine and a feeding tube was not an option.

I fought every day and was able to overcome both of those, I am no longer on either. I spent six months in the hospital, and after being released I decided that I was not done with cheerleading, so I coached while living in Reno for the next 2 1/2 years. It was definitely a learning experience for me to figure out how, without the use of his arms, or hands, and confined to a wheelchair, to verbally communicate exactly what I wanted my athletes to do while not being able to physically show them.

Later he decided that it was time to step away from cheerleading and move back to Portland to further his education, and continue his passion for the fashion industry.

Now a full-time student at the Art Institute of Portland, and living in his own apartment in the downtown area, he now is in control of his own care 100 percent. Once he graduates, Connin plans on moving to New York City, and to be highly involved in the fashion industry.

However, with not having the use of his arms or hands it makes things a little more difficult, until he found hope in a rehabilitation center located in San Diego, California called Project Walk.

Connin said it is a rigorous program that believes with repetition of movement there is more hope in creating new wave links from the brain to those parts of the body which have been affected by my injury.

However, is a very expensive program and he is hoping to raise $5,000 to be able to attend the program on a regular basis.

Connin has set up a account at www.GoFundMe.com/KennethConnin to help raise finances and will also be recording his experiences at the program on my YouTube channel which is www.YouTube.com/KennethConnin




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Anonymous July 11, 2016 10:18 pm (Pacific time)

A very inspirational story to say the least. Giving up should never be an option for anyone in life. People have to believe in themselves and their ability to change their own lives. I believe Kenneth story will inspire a lot of people to believe in themselves again and help change people lives. Kenneth thank you for sharing your story. I wish you the best. Take care of yourself.

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