When Conner stopped making sounds at the age of one and almost every sound bothered him, his mother, Sharon, would quietly sing Disney songs to him and every night she told him a story that began with “Once upon a time” and ended “And they all lived happily ever after.” 21 years later they still have their nightly stories only now Conner starts it about their day together, Sharon adds to their ‘real’ fairy tales, and Conner ends them with a happily ever after.
Disney music soothed Conner. He wore out the VHS covers playing with them. It may have been Mickey Mouse that spoke to Sharon, because when he started talking at the age of 5 1/2 and struggled doing so, she used Disney characters to help him along. His language enhanced so much more quickly when he scripted from a Disney movie. It seemed Disney was a magical gate into Conner’s mind so she decided to use the opening to teach him through the eyes of Disney.
They listen to Disney songs to assist his communication. They discuss the meanings to help his understanding. What are the lyrics saying to Conner? She relates his responses to his daily life-successes-struggles-dreams-goals. They do the same with movies. When Conner seems to hit a learning block…they discuss “what would Walt Disney think?”
Walt (they are on a first name basis) created Epcot because of his love to learn about other countries, cultures and languages, and Animal Kingdom for his love for animals, their survival and the circle of life. This and more she incorporates into Conner’s learning. Conner’s love for photography started when he wore two cameras around his neck at the Disney parks. His writing abilities strengthen with every Disney book they read. Walt has taken them beyond the doors of Disney…he is an integral part of their lives.
What would Walt say about this special mother-son team? I know he’d be the first to agree that Conner is growing up to become a magical young man. We’ve named him our first ‘Mighty League Ambassador’ of hope. Let’s hear from Conner about his love for Disney and make sure you scroll to the end to catch the virtual gallery showing of his photography.
Conner, what do you love most about Disney?
I love watching Disney movies, meeting the characters, riding the attractions at the park, watching the parades, seeing their ice shows, theatre performances and going to the Disney store especially in New York. My #1 thing is Mickey Mouse. I love watching his cartoons and meeting him in person. He is the first character that Walt Disney ever created and everything Disney since then started with the Mouse.
What is some of the best Disney magic?
Tinkerbell flying. Watching the show wishes with the animation on the castle to music, dancing down Main Street with my Mom, the parades where all the characters shake my hand and blow me kisses, getting kissed by the Princesses and meeting all my Disney friends.
How did it make you feel when you got the chance to meet Disney princesses during your last visit to Disneyworld? Do you have a favorite?
The Princesses make me feel happy. They kiss me and they talk to me like I am their Prince. My mom takes pictures and video and I look at them every day because I love the memories of them. Snow White is my favorite Princess.
You and your mom are making your own magic. Can you share some of the special things that you are doing together?
My Mom is my hero. We do so many things together. We go to Disneyworld every Dec for Christmas and every April for my birthday. We watch my favorite shows on TV (American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, Joel Osteen), go to the movies, Disney on ice and the Disney Store. We go on road trips where I take pictures. We tell a story together every night before I say my prayers. We like to dance and sing together. We are changing a law together. We share Christmas and every holiday. Mom makes each day magical for me. She sits on the floor in my room when I need to see her when I am sick or just feel sad. Mom and I do grown up days where she teaches me things like how to use a hammer, play baseball, climb a ladder. My mom makes all my dreams come true because she believes in me. Together we can do anything.
You are also creating your own magic with your photography. What do you enjoy about taking photographs?
I love to take pictures of things, people, signs and places. I won honorable mention on a picture I took of a butterfly in New York. People tell me I have special eyes for the camera which does not make sense to me. I took pictures and Mt. Vernon and have 9 pictures published in a book called Presidents’ Garden. I especially like to take pictures at the Disney parks and when we travel. I look at my pictures every day and they make me feel good. They help me to remember my happy places. When I go to events I walk around with my camera and it helps me. I communicate through my camera. I hope you like them.
Enjoy a gallery showing of Conner’s work:
Discover more of Conner’s work on his website and meet him and his mom on their Facebook page. Thank you Conner for letting see the magic of Disney through your eyes and for sharing what you see through the lens of your camera. We are proud that you are our Mighty League Ambassador of hope (and magic!)