OLD TOWN, Maine — Connor Archer’s effort to persevere over the personal challenges of autism while helping others at the same time continues to build momentum.
The relentless rising senior from Old Town High School generated more than $6,000 for local programs that help young children with challenges during the second annual Courageous Steps fundraising event at Victory Field, bringing his two-year total raised to more than $10,000.
“It takes a community to come together and support these kind of endeavors, and I cannot thank enough the businesses all over the Bangor area for supporting Courageous Steps,” said Archer in a recent email. “One person can make a big difference, but several can make an impact.”
Archer, the son of Mike and Jessica Archer, was diagnosed with autism at age 3 but has gone on to have a distinguished career at Old Town, where he is an honors student and a member of the National Honor Society, plays in multiple school bands, competes on the Coyotes’ cross country and track and field teams and is the RSU 34 board of directors’ student representative.
He conceived the Courageous Steps project two years ago to increase awareness about autism and raise funds for programs that have helped him defy the stereotypes associated with the neurological disorder, which is characterized by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors.
The money raised from this year’s fundraiser has been donated to several Old Town organizations.
The RSU 34 and RSU 26 special education departments each received $1,000 and the Green House Nursery School in Milford was presented a $2,000 donation to assist in the purchase of adaptive equipment and technologies such as personal learning devices to assist pupils.
“This is, after all, what we will all be using probably in the future,” said Archer. “Along with that, I continue maintaining [the Green House sensory learning] gardens as those, too, grow every year.”
Archer also established a Courageous Steps scholarship fund to recognize Old Town High School graduating seniors for their work in overcoming substantial challenges in their lives. Three $300 scholarships were presented this year.
Archer now is working on two summer projects. One is a Courageous Steps benefit dinner at the Old Town Governor’s Restaurant from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 21. Ten percent of the meal costs will go toward Courageous Steps endeavors, and extra donations will be welcomed.
Archer also has partnered with the Old Town Recreation Department for the second annual Courageous Steps Back to School Drive to be held Thursday, July 30, at Governor’s Restaurant.
Several bins already have been placed at locales around the community to gather donations of school supplies, which will be donated to Old Town and Orono-area schools.
Last year’s drive generated six boxes of school supplies.
“The Courageous Steps Project has been so successful because of the help and support of my own community and many surrounding communities,” said Archer. “It is their support that inspires me and motivates me to continue to work hard to make a difference so that individuals with autism and other challenges can have the opportunities and support that I have had as an individual living with autism.”
Donations to support The Courageous Steps Project will be graciously accepted throughout the year. Checks may be made payable to Old Town High School (memo: Courageous Steps) and mailed to: Old Town High School, 203 Stillwater Ave., Old Town, ME 04468. To learn more about The Courageous Steps Project, visit www.thecourageousstepsproject.org.