Carson Wentz’s foundation helps RHS student bag buck
Rugby High freshman Connor Klein has met plenty of challenges in his life.
Some came early in his life, when doctors diagnosed him with a genetic condition that caused an attack of pancreatitis at age three.
The attack eventually led to a major surgery when he was 10 years old.
“It was a pretty new surgery,” Klein said. “They had only done 500 surgeries in Minneapolis at the time I went there.”
Klein described the procedure, called a total pancreatectomy and autologous islet cell transplant.
“I had my pancreas, spleen, gallbladder and part of my intestines removed,” Klein said. “Then, they basically ground up the pancreas and put cells that make insulin into my liver.”
Klein said the surgery created different challenges for him.
“Most of the issues I have is not having a spleen,” Klein said. “That (affects) my immune system, so every once in a while, I can get really sick and end up in the hospital and have (intravenous antibiotics).”
Klein said infections “will kind of affect the liver, because that’s what a lot of them will attack. It will kind of screw up the process of the surgery and reverse it.”
“We just have to make sure I don’t go septic and don’t get too far behind, otherwise, that’s where the problems start to occur,” he added.
Klein said he’s adjusted to his new normal in the few years since his surgery. “I’ve learned to live with it and get over it now,” he said.
Klein said he had “a couple of” medical procedures after his surgery through Sanford Health in North Dakota.
Staff at Sanford would refer Klein to the Carson Wentz AO1 Foundation, an organization whose mission is “uplifting individuals and communities around the world by demonstrating God’s Love for His people,” according to the foundation’s website.
The foundation operates an outdoor ministry that helps children facing medical challenges thrive and brings new experiences into their lives.
“It’s mostly about helping kids with medical disabilities and helping them to get closer to God,” Klein said of the ministry within AO1. The ministry’s Mountain Movers takes youth on outdoor adventures, while Camp Conquerors brings children together at a camp near Lake Sakakawea.
Klein said he had the chance to meet Wentz.
“I met him at Camp Conquerors,” Klein said of the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback.
At the end of October, Klein had the opportunity to participate in the Mountain Movers program with AO1 staffer Cole Scherbenske.
“We went on a five-day deer hunt in Montana,” Klein said. “It was around Bozeman and Billings.”
“We rifle hunted,” he added. “The rifle season opened about a week before we got there.”
Klein said the hunt went slowly at first. “We sat in a cabin for a lot of time, because there was about a foot and a half of snow.”
They ventured out for another try, when Klein said he bagged “my first deer ever.”
“There was a huge cliff we were on top of, and there was a big drop off on the bottom,” Klein said. “The deer was standing at the bottom of the drop off at this little river. We peeked over the cliff and didn’t see it at first; it saw us first,” he added. “We had to hit the ground. We got it ten minutes later.”
Klein shot a young buck in velvet. “It was about 145 to 150 inches,” he estimated.
“I haven’t had much good luck with deer,” Klein said, noting he had gone hunting before with his uncle and family members.
“I will hopefully go hunting next year,” Klein said, adding he hoped to participate in more activities with the AO1 Foundation.
Klein said he participates in Cross Country at Rugby High. “I’m planning to play basketball, and two years ago, I was in track,” he said.
“I’m mostly in sports, but last year, I did a Math Counts competition,” Klein added. “I won a regional competition, and moved on to state, but I didn’t do as well there.”
Klein said he hoped to participate in more AO1 activities in the future and said he was grateful for the opportunities AO1 offered him.“They got me involved with going outdoors more and getting connected with more people,” he said.
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