Reporting by Diane Roberts, WUSA 9
The caption — a description about how rare a treasure they are in South African shanty towns — inspired her to take action.
“I started thinking how sports have always been there for me and always been a confidence builder,” said Connor..
After she first saw the picture in March, Connor’s mind started racing. Her family had planned a summer trip to South Africa and she wanted to make the experience more than a vacation. Connor wanted to help children like the one featured in the National Geographic photo by bringing soccer balls to the shanty towns she’d read about.
“I was happy she wanted to do something for someone else … I’m not surprised, she tends to get things done she puts her mind to,” said Connor’s mom, Lisa Bell.
Connor attacked research like she does practice, whole-heartedly. She opened a PayItSquare.com account to raise money and received more than $2,000 in donations to fund Balls for Hope.
She found out the best price to buy soccer balls and pumps in bulk and had them shipped to her house. Then, she encouraged family members to carry the deflated balls in their luggage.
Here’s the kicker, Connor doesn’t even play soccer.
“She’s one of the reasons that we’ve won five consecutive independent school league championships,” said head track and field coach Kevin Hughes.
Connor’s determination on the track carries over to her Balls for Hope project.
“We went into the shanty towns and I personally delivered the balls to each organization,” said Connor. “It was definitely the most amazing moment of my life. I experienced a sense of fulfillment, and seeing the smiles on those kids’ faces eliminated all the stress that had accumulated over those last three months.”
Now that Connor has had this amazing feeling, she wants to keep it and expound on it. She plans to raise more money and have others contribute to her Balls for Hope project.
You can make a donation by going to her PayItSquare.com account: http://www.payitsquare.com/collect-page/11921.