Connor McKemey speaks about accident, going home
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A big day for a Tega Cay boy critically burned in a backyard accident -- 14-year-old Connor McKemey got the chance to hang out with the Carolina Panthers at training camp.
McKemey was the quarterback of Gold Hill Middle's football team and a passionate lacrosse player.
And for the first time we're hearing from him. NewsChannel 36 anchor Dave Wagner sat down with McKemey speaking out for the first time about his tragic accident.
If you journey to the fourth floor of Levine Children's Hospital, you'll find a room that looks like a shrine.
Photos of friends, messages of love, images from the happiest moments in 14-year-old Connor McKemey's life.
You'll also witness a miracle walking down the hall.
"Just getting your body moving a whole lot more helps," says McKemey.
Beyond the labored walk, beyond the scars, you'll find a teenage boy grateful to be alive and just days from going home.
"It's really, really exciting, you know. Just being away for almost six months, just to be home finally, such a tough road and just to be home is a lot better," says McKemey.
The last time Connor was home was just before Christmas.
An accident involving an outdoor fireplace left Connor with burns over 85 percent of his body and fighting for his life.
"I can remember everything of the night of the accident up until when I got into the ambulance," says McKemey.
"I see kids that, just as recently as 10 to 15 years ago, would not have survived their injury that now are able to survive and survive quite well," says Dr. Rich Cartie with the Joseph M. Still Burn Center.
While doctors, nurses and therapists worked to bring McKemey back from the brink of death, he was bringing purpose to the lives of friends and even strangers.
Fundraisers and games for the boy known to his family and friends as "Bear."
Even the Princeton University lacrosse team heard about his story from an alum and dedicated a game to McKemey.
"I thought it was really amazing how just complete strangers can just buck up and pray and stuff like that, just care for you," says McKemey.
On the field, McKemey made his mark by giving his all, regaining what he's lost will be a long journey.
"Since I got here, I've not really been in that great of pain. Biggest pain is just when they're stretching me, trying to get that range of motion back," says McKemey. "Sometimes I get a little upset with my scars and stuff but you know it's just a reminder of what I've been through and stuff."
But you won't find a boy looking for pity. Connor McKemey is simply looking for a second chance at life and another chance to play the game he loves.
"I just really hope to have a perfectly normal life, be able to do everything that I love, get back out on the lacrosse field and play for our high school," says McKemey. "Nothing ever is going to be set in your way that you can't conquer."