Chesapeake Beach boy beats the odds and Walks for Wishes

Connor Harry Potter WConnor Durgin, a 6-year-old from Chesapeake Beach, is a walking miracle, and now he's going to lead a team in the Annapolis Walk For Wishes April 21.

When Connor was in utero, he was diagnosed with infantile myofibromatosis; a solid mass tumor was wrapped around his neck. He had a 20 percent chance of surviving birth, and if he did, his parents were told he would likely be a quadriplegic.

But Connor is a fighter. He survived birth and underwent nine months of chemotherapy, had a tracheostomy until he was 5, underwent surgery to correct his posture, and still has plastic surgery in his future. But his prognosis is good. He's in school and even playing lacrosse for the first time this spring.

Last year Connor got to pick a wish from Make-A-Wish.

“We didn't know how to explain what a wish was, so we had him watch ‘Aladdin,’” his mom, Heather Durgin, explains. “Then we let him decide what he wanted.”

Connor asked for a trip to Disney World, which surprised his parents. They thought he would want to be a police officer because he was obsessed with police at the time. But Disney it was, and the trip was an amazing experience, Heather Durgin and her husband, Nick, say.

The family stayed at Give Kids the World Village, a nonprofit resort where Connor could have ice cream 24 hours a day, go trick-or-treating, get presents from Santa, go on rides, and get tucked in bed by a giant bunny. They also received a “magic button” that allowed them to bypass any lines at the resorts. Connor especially loved the roller coasters in the various resorts and bought himself a Harry Potter costume.

“It was awesome. We had a wonderful time,” Nick Durgin says. “Make-A-Wish and Give Kids the World are two of our favorite charities.” Another favorite is the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, which paired Connor with the Johns Hopkins University Lacrosse team. He is now an honorary member of the team with his own number, his dad says.

Walk for Wishes in Annapolis or Washington, D.C.

To give back, the Durgins are doing the Walk for Wishes in Annapolis for the first time, and Connor is a Wish Captain and captain of his family's team, Connor Squad. The walk is a community-wide celebration and effort to raise funds to grant wishes for local children with life-threatening medical conditions.

The walk will be 5-8 p.m. April 21 at Annapolis Towne Center. Along with the walk, families can enjoy music, face paining, balloon art and other festivities. A walk will also be held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on April 10 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. For details visit walkforwishesannapolis.org.

By Betsy Stein