It was not placed in his hands, but simply in his heart. A gift to view the world as one. To recognize each and everybody at the same angle, not a degree different. To love not because of whom they appear to be or how intelligent they perceive to be but because of whom they really are; loving from the inside looking out, not the outside looking in. He has been given the ability to bring out the best in others, placing everlasting smiles among the people he continues to encounter, leaving marks of kindness and memory. Though he may be challenged by the simpler tasks in life, he continually manages to grasp the deeper ones.
“Connor does not have any sort of syndrome or specific disability, Connor is Connor,” junior Carly Martin said. “Although he is high functioning and socially advanced he is considered cognitively disabled, [and] is still working on the basics in reading and math. He may not be able to factor polynomials or understand Shakespeare, but he has so much to teach others.”
Senior Connor Martin and his sister Carly do not share the average brother and sister relationship. Replacing conflict with time at church and visiting each other at lunch only seem to strengthen the bond between the two of them.
“Connor and I’s relationship is unique,” Carly said. “Because Connor is special and we do not have the same brother-sister relationship where we have conflict as much, I think he is a better brother than most brothers are. Most brothers pick on their little sister a lot and he is really nice to me. As teenagers we have definitely grown closer and his disabilities do not affect our relationship what so ever.”
The older Connor and Carly have grown, the closer they have become. They spend most of their time making weekly stops at Chick-Fil-A for breakfast before school, obsessing over the football team and occasionally bickering over changing the radio.
One way or the other, both of the Martins spend a great deal of their time dedicated to the football team. Connor has been a football manager since his freshman year and Carly is colonel of the Cougar Stars. According to the drill team, Connor is their biggest fan.
“Before high school started, I thought about how that [football manager] was something I wanted to do,” Connor Martin said. “[Football] is a great sport to watch and I like to watch all of the plays.”
Connor, playing the role of Carly’s older brother, makes sure she has her bags ready every morning, and is always there to congratulate her after every dance competition.
“Connor is my older brother but I drive him around and take care of him,” Carly said. “I love having that role of leading him through things and even though he is different, he has a special ability to lead still. He can teach me things too, but I love being able to teach him.”
Other than being a football manager, Connor is a bagger at Kroger, works with the softball team and plays Special Olympics basketball. He also completes the MS150, a 180-mile bike ride from Houston to Austin, with his dad every year.
“I go to the finish line to support him and watch him finish every year,” Carly said. “He does it on a tandem, which is a two seated bike, but one day he will probably do it himself.”
More than anything, Connor wishes to be able to take the same classes as the rest of the student body, particularly the more advanced courses.
“The one thing Connor asks for all the time is to be in ‘normal’ classes,” Carly said. “He gets to take elective courses with regular kids and those are always his favorites. He has made so many friends and he wishes he could learn in the same way they do. I wish I could give Connor the ability to learn and understand the way most kids do.”
Carly started becoming aware of Connor’s special needs when she was young as she began learning of the things that her brother did not understand.
“Although Connor is great with people and socially gifted his brain does not work the same way mine does,” Carly said. “Connor may need help counting out his money or shoes, but I am always there to help. He is never a burden, but always a blessing.”
Though Connor is brought upon challenges that may only seem like simple tasks to others, he has come full circle with the life lessons he has been able to teach his family and most importantly his younger sister.
“I have learned from Connor not to judge people,” Carly said. “Everybody is the same in his eyes. No one’s different, there is no one to judge him by, he loves everyone equally which is really good and is hard for everyone to see sometimes and I think that is a gift that he has. Connor treats everyone with the same respect and I think that is awesome.”
As for Connor, Carly has taught him to never give up on life and how to be a great brother.
“I love Carly because she is sweet and wonderful and really means a lot to me,” Connor said. “She is a really nice girl and I would rather have her for a sister than anyone else.”
One of the most important moments they shared was being baptized together.
Along with Connor’s joy that he brings to others, Carly feels that Connor has also a social gift as he is incredibly well spoken and confident when it comes to talking to people.
“When we were little my parents would always be like stranger danger, no talking to people,” Carly said. “[Connor] would talk to anybody and everybody he saw. At the airport it was bad because he would go up to everybody and talk to them and see if he could help them with their bags but he had to learn that he cannot talk to everybody.”
Connor is loved not only by his sister but by all the people around him. He has been given names like “C-Money” from the football players and is always making plans with friends.
“I think everyone loves Connor because of his joy and love for others,” Carly said. “God has truly gifted him with a joyful and happy heart. Most people are drawn to his sweet smile and outgoing personality.”
Connor says his relationship with Carly is “perfect”. Though Carly does not agree completely, as like any brother and sister they have disagreements but continue to support each other.
“The best thing about Connor is probably his joyful spirit and his never ending smile,” Carly said. “He is always happy and if he ever gets down it is for like five seconds and then he gets back up which is so awesome. I would never want to switch him out for any other brother because without Connor, there would be so many things that are different. If someone is upset in our family, you are the one to make us laugh which is the best thing ever.”