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“Never give up on your dreams. Don’t let anything get in your way” is the motto 14-year-old Conner embodies. Conner dreams of being a tennis star. Being born with proximal femoral focal deficiency (PFFD) in both legs, Conner could have been left sitting courtside. PFFD is a condition where the end of the bone closest to the hip is too short, leaving Conner’s feet attached to his legs without ankles, femurs or knees. After consulting with surgeons at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Greenville, his parents made the decision to have both legs amputated when he was just two years old.

After surgery, Pediatric Orthotic and Prosthetic Services – Southesast, LLC, at the hospital made Conner his first set of legs. Along with his prosthetic legs, the hospital also made him a set of very short legs, known as stubbies. The stubbies were to protect the ends of his legs while he was running around the house. After using the prosthetic legs for about a year, Conner decided they slowed him down too much. Wanting speed, he chose to wear the stubbies all the time.

Encouraged by his parents not to let anything stand in his way, Conner began playing tennis. Soon he was playing against able-bodied kids in local tournaments, even winning his first doubles match and several single matches. As he began winning, he also began inspiring others. Conner says, “You just need to have a positive attitude, have fun and not worry about missing a shot.” Over the years, Conner has won several awards for his determination and inspiration on and off the court. He won the Peggy Gold Spirit Award, the Hal Southern Boy’s 12 Sportsmanship Award, and was named the Middle School Male Outstanding Player in North Carolina.

As he has become older, his competitors have gotten a lot taller and faster than he, so he is beginning to play wheelchair tennis. Conner won in the first wheelchair tennis tournament he played. Conner has attended several professional tournaments and has even been able to hit with many professional tennis players, including Andy Roddick, Jim Courier and John Isner. This past summer, he was invited to the U.S. Open and was able to meet his favorite player, Rafael Nadal.

Some of his biggest cheerleaders are his doctors, nurses and staff at the Greenville Shriners Hospital. They hope to see Conner competing one day in the U.S. Open himself, in the wheelchair division. Conner and his family say they love the Greenville Shriners Hospital and say, “We have always felt very comfortable at the hospital and are pleased with the excellent care Conner has received and continues to receive.”

Conner is currently ranked the #1 Junior Wheelchair Tennis Player in the United States! He is ranked #21 in the world!

Conner has been a patient ambassador for the Greenville Shriners Hospital for more than seven years.

Meet some of our other special patients.