massachusetts AREA

Timothy

Connelly

 

2023 Massachusetts Winner

Tim has been through a lot in these last few years and has come out the other side stronger than ever before. In October of 2019, while practicing with his football team, he broke his ankle, needing surgery causing his season to get cut short. Right before the pandemic, he was cleared to play again, however that did not get to happen. In late 2020, he was diagnosed with a condition called Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome. A congenital heart defect that causes the heart to beat uncontrollably at any time. Tim had his first surgery in February 2021 and since then has had three surgeries all while also being on medication to help reduce the severity of the condition. As of April 2023, he has been symptom free for a little more than 5 months.

Despite the difficulties, Tim has been a leader on the field and off. He was so influential on his lacrosse team that he was named captain his sophomore year and has been since. He cares deeply for his friends and family and does anything for them.

Timothy Connelly

School: Watertown High School

Tim has been through so much in these last few years and has come out the other side stronger than ever before. In October of 2019, while practicing with his football team, Tim broke his ankle, needing surgery causing his season to get cut short. Then Covid hit just as he got the all clear to play. The lock down, and isolation was very difficult. But he had no idea what difficulties were to come. Over the next few months Tim made mention of his heart racing which was assumed to be anxiety. However, that was not the case.  While having his wisdom teeth out in December of 2020, the oral surgeon said something that would change the course of Tim’s life. “The heart monitor is picking up something funny so you might want to get that checked”. Never did Tim think that a trip to the dentist would lead him to the cardiologist. After an initial visit, they put Tim on the treadmill. All of a sudden his heart started racing. The lines on the ekg machine were all over the place. His heart rate is over 230 beats per minute. The doctor told Tim that he had a condition called Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome. A congenital heart defect that causes the heart to beat uncontrollably at any time.Tim has his first surgery on February 22, 2021. 

Three months later the WPW returned. And on July 6, 2021 he went in for round 2. And again 3 months later it returned. We decided that medication would be our next best option for fear that a 3rd ablation would end up with a pacemaker. So for the next year, Tim lived on daily medicine for his heart and for the severe anxiety that this condition caused. Until one night in January of 2023, he was planning on going to a friend’s birthday party. However, he was not feeling well and felt dizzy, and then proceeded to pass out in his mother’s arms. Going back to Boston’s Children Hospital, it was decided he would have his third ablation on April 10, 2023, the day before Tim’s 17th birthday. We are happy to report that Tim has been symptom free for a little more than five months. 

Despite the difficulties, Tim has been a leader on the field and off. He was so influential on his lacrosse team that he was named captain his sophomore year and has been since. He cares deeply for his friends and family and does anything for them. He thinks of others before he worries about himself. He’s been through so much and is now finally breathing easy and is excited about the future and not having WPW anymore. He can go off to college without worry. He can finally live his life.

Tatum Leahy

School: Homeschooled/Attleboro High School

Adopted from China at 18 months old, Tatum was born with a cleft lip and palate and had to endure multiple surgeries to repair them despite her struggles. Tatum is an excellent student with a 4.0 grade point average while taking AP classes and dual enrollment courses. Tatum plays varsity soccer for Attleboro High School and also plays for the 07 Girl’s ECRL Bayside FC club team. Tatum spends her free time volunteering with the High School’s Unified Track Team for those with special needs. She also is a referee for Attleboro’s Youth Soccer. In June, Tatum tore her ACL at a college ID camp and underwent ACL reconstruction surgery. She has been to every practice and game cheering on her teammates and helping the younger players. She is working hard to get back on the field. Tatum is the definition of strength and her persistence to keep going forward is very admirable.

William Sonia

School: Newton North High School

William was born with bilateral Club Feet resulting in him having to wear casts for the first 8 months of his life and braces until he was 4. He has gone through physical therapy and has played Football since the 3rd grade. He is now a senior on the Varsity Football Team and pushes himself to be the best teammate, player and leader he can be. He embraces the Newton North values of Grit, Teamwork, and Family. He also has spent the last few years as a volunteer coach for the Newton Youth Football program as well as the Boys and Girls Club Youth Basketball program. William is a strong young man who carries himself with pride and confidence despite his struggles in the past, making him the leader he is today.

Bezaija Forchap

School: Lynn English High School

Bezajia Forchap is a member of the Lynn English Marine Corps Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (MCJROTC). She was born in Cameroon and at the age of 9, she was bullied by fellow students in Cameroon. Older students would take her lunch and call her names. At the age of 10, she witnessed her school dormitories get bombed during Cameroon’s civil war. Her life was always at risk because a member of her family worked for Cameroon’s government. She had to endure many other hardships. A bomb was placed in front of her home in Cameroon as a threat to her family. After arriving in Lynn, MA she was bullied by students and school staff who made fun of her accent and called her names. Today, Forchap is an outstanding young woman and student. She is an AP student with a GPA of 4.33 and ranks in the top 3% of her senior class. She is the captain of the Lynn English Math Team, Captain of the MCJROTC Drill Team. She is always giving back to the community, completing over 60 hours of community service in the past year.

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