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Cancer survivor returns to West Chester after walk across U.S.

West Chester man walks across U.S. to support cancer patients
Published: May. 11, 2022 at 12:36 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - A West Chester man is back from his cross-country walk that raised money for cancer patients and their families.

“Every single step I took hurt,” says Cody O’Connor, “Probably more relevant at the end of this than even the beginning of this.”

O’Connor just returned to West Chester after spending 10 months walking across the country from Times Square in New York City to Santa Monica Pier in California.

O’Connor is a cancer survivor. He was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma when he was 14 years old.

“I’m missing a bone in my leg, tendons are probably pinned around here,” explains O’Connor, “I was told I would never walk normally in my life.”

From that experience, O’Connor started his own non-profit called Champions Do Overcome to help families of cancer patients by providing a support system.

“My parents couldn’t be with me, I had my grandfather with me every single day as I was receiving chemotherapy,” explains O’Connor, “And I knew how blessed and fortunate I was to have that support system.”

That is where this walk across America idea was born.

O’Connor wanted to use his story and his resilience to spread a message of hope and raise money.

“If it inspires one child to go up to treatment the next day, if it inspires one child to know they can have a life after this illness it’s 100% worth it.”

O’Connor’s friend Connor Rose traveled every mile and then some with O’Connor serving as his crew chief and support on the road. The two made the tough decision to extend the trip by almost 1,000 miles once they reached Kansas City.

They went south to Texas to avoid the snow pass in the Rockies.

O’Connor says that gave them a chance to connect with more people in more cities.

When all was said and done, O’Connor walked 3,826 miles over 246 days, went through 20 pairs of shoes, and raised enough money to support 50 families fighting cancer.

O’Connor says in addition to Rose, he knew he had the support of so many people back here in the Tri-State and beyond thanks to his mission.

“The illness or anything you are going through is not an eternity,” explains O’Connor, “And I think it’s important that we get back to coming together as people and not getting divided and promoting love and community.”

O’Connor is not sure what is next just yet, but he says plans are already in the works to do something to connect this community of overcomes.

It just might have to wait until his body is healed and he gets caught up on some sleep.

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