OLD TOWN, Maine – Connor Archer has run his last distance race as a member of the Old Town High School track and cross-country teams, but he certainly hasn’t stopped pushing forward.
The Stillwater resident, who recently graduated from high school with highest honors, has steered that athletic energy toward another passion, volunteerism.
Named one of America’s top 10 youth volunteers of 2016 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards last month, Archer raised nearly $10,000 for local programs that help children with challenges during his Courageous Steps Project’s annual walk-run held recent at Victory Field in Old Town.
Archer, who was diagnosed with autism at age 3, has worked tirelessly to educate the public about the challenges faced by people with autism and now has raised more than $28,000 in three years.
Programs in Milford, Old Town, Orono, Veazie and Brewer will benefit from this year’s fundraiser, Archer said.
Two Old Town High School seniors recently received $500 scholarships from the Courageous Steps Scholarship Fund, and Archer said he hopes to expand the scholarship fund to other area schools and also create an eastern Maine region scholarship in the future.
In addition, Archer has established a Courageous Steps charitable giving fund that is available for nonprofit organizations in the Bangor area. Any local nonprofit is encouraged to check out the project’s website, thecourageousstepsproject.org, to download an application.
Archer will continue his efforts this summer with the Courageous’ Steps third annual back-to-school supply drive Aug. 4, as well as hosting a benefit dinner from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 9 at Governor’s in Old Town.
As part of his national volunteerism award, Archer received a $5,000 grant that he could donate to the nonprofit of his choice and he recently named the Green House Nursery School in Milford as the recipient. That school was instrumental in helping Archer get his education established after he was diagnosed with autism.
Archer plans to attend Husson University in Bangor this fall.