Augusta, GA (WJBF) — With the help of our great sponsors, WJBF Sports honored the best and brightest student athletes in the CSRA at our annual WJBF Scholar Athlete Award Banquet. Each Wednesday, throughout the school year, WJBF recognizes a local high school athlete who goes above and beyond both on and off the field.
Here is a listing of all our scholar athletes for the 2015-16 school year:Barry Armstrong-Blackville Hilda High SchoolAbbey Baltzegar-Jefferson Davis AcademyWilliam Barnes-Barnwell High SchoolHeath Brace-Augusta Christian SchoolRASHAD BYRD-North Augusta High SchoolDeAngilo Drayton-Silver Bluff High SchoolVeronica Ellis-Cross Creek High SchoolKIMBERLY GUNBY-Thomas Jefferson AcademyNatalie Hogan-Lakeside High SchoolFrederick Holloway-Butler High SchoolNjike Hunter-Lucy C Laney High SchoolHalle Hutto-Wagener-Salley High SchoolASIA JOHNSON-Aiken High SchoolMatthew Jones-Academy of Richmond CountyJeff Jones-Academy of Richmond CountyALEXANDER KARIUS-South Aiken High SchoolRYLIE MARCHMAN-Burke County High SchoolJose Nogueras-Grovetown High SchoolBAILEY PEDERSEN-Strom Thurmond High SchoolHannah Peters-Evans High SchoolConnor Poole-Harlem High SchoolDAKOTA REESE-Briarwood AcademyCJ REID-Glenn Hills High SchoolASLYN ROMEO-Midland Valley High SchoolLARIYA ROSS-Hephzibah High SchoolKennedy Sams-Glascock County High SchoolNikole Schneider-Aquinas High SchoolDaniel Smith-Williston Elko High SchoolTy Snipes-Greenbrier High SchoolCALEB VEIHMAN-Fox Creek High SchoolLindsay Wallace-Davidson Fine Arts AcademyJaniah Williams-TW Josey High School
We had a very special guest speaker at Thursday night’s event. Here’s his story:
Connor McKemey was 13 years old when he was involved in a backyard accident that left him with burns over 87% of his body, mostly 3rd degree and higher. Initially Connor was given a less than a 1% chance of survival, and his parents were told if he did survive, to expect at least a year in the hospital and more than likely, the 3 sport athlete would probably never walk again.
After almost 3 months in a coma and over 100 surgeries, Connor took his first tentative steps in the hospital and went into the record books as one of the largest burn survivors in the United States. After four months, Connor was released from the burn center and sent to Levine’s Children’s Hospital for inpatient rehab where he had to relearn everything from how to adapt his new hands which were missing several fingers, to tie his shoes & dress himself- to standing and balancing to better walk on his own.
After 5 months in a hospital setting, Connor was ready to go home. His initial goal was to make it to his 8th grade graduation. He not only made it back to school, but was able to walk across the stage and accept his diploma with his classmates.
11 months after the accident, Connor defied all of the doctors predictions as well as any records of prior burn patients, and stepped out onto the Lacrosse field to play in his first High School game.
Connor went on to play varsity lacrosse, winning a state championship in 2011; was class president, captain of his schools spirit squad and a member of the high school concert chorus. He was also named “Charlotte’s Terrific Teen” in 2013, elected to South Carolina’s Boys State, and just this year was named a top 10 finalist for the One Love Foundation Unsung Hero Award.
Connor is now 21 years old and just finished his junior year at High Point University where he plays attack on the D1 Lacrosse team- the largest burn survivor to ever play at the collegiate level.
Though his physical appearance has been altered, his inner beauty shines through and he is an inspiring light to all that come in contact with him.
Connor has shared his story of hope and inspiration as a featured speaker for the Cam Newton Foundation, the Children’s Miracle Network, Hallmark Hall of Fame Hero Awards; Carolinas Medical Center, Doctors Hospital, Augusta and The Southeastern Firefighters Burn Foundation as well as for dozens of sports teams and student organizations across the country. Connor was also featured in the full-length documentary “Trial By Fire” as well as the cover of Lacrosse Magazine twice.
His message is that we all have some sort of scars… his happen to be on the outside, though many of us carry scars on the inside. That we sometimes can’t control what happens to us but we can control how we react to it. Regardless of what bad things happen to you, you can rise above it and take the “impossible” and turn it into “I’M Possible”.