Kite-flying expert brings inspiration to Delavan event

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Anna Marie Lux
Wednesday, February 5, 2014

DELAVAN--Connor Doran never intended to fly indoor kites.

Then someone put a single-string glider into his hand and his life was never the same.

“It was just me and the kite,” 21-year-old Connor recalls.

As time passed, the kites he so gracefully maneuvered lifted him to new heights.

In 2010, he auditioned with 90,000 other people to earn a spot on the popular TV show, “America's Got Talent.” To his surprise, Connor sailed into the semifinals.

He ignored the skeptical looks on the judges' faces. He made his kite dance to the music of Sarah McLachlan. He won the hearts of spellbound strangers.

Above all, he proved to himself that he could push beyond the ordinary.

Next week, Connor and his mother, Amy Doran, are traveling from their home in Olympia, Wash., to Delavan. Connor is among the kite-flying celebrities arriving for the Sky Circus on Ice, with most activities at Lake Lawn Resort.

He also will speak at two Delavan schools about how he was bullied as a youth, and how kite-flying gave him confidence to aim high.

“When Connor went on 'America's Got Talent,' we saw a change in how kids treated him,” Amy said. “After that, so many people turned around and treated him with respect.”

Connor and Amy will teach people how to speak out in safe ways against bullying in their inspirational program, “Dare to Dream.”

“Bullying doesn't just happen to kids,” Amy said. “It happens to people of all ages. If you don't learn as a child to speak out, you won't be able to speak out as an adult.”

The mother and son weave their talk around a fun demonstration of indoor kite-flying.

“You don't need wind like you do for outdoor kite-flying,” Connor explains. “Just moving around the room creates all the wind you need.”

Indoor kites are so lightweight that an actual breeze will blow them over.

Connor also will bring awareness about epilepsy, a brain disorder that produces seizures.

The part-time college student has had epilepsy since childhood, when he had up to 40 seizures a day at one time.

“With epilepsy, I have felt alone,” Connor said. “I have felt like a nobody. But I don't feel that way anymore.”

He also has an anxiety disorder but finds relief when he picks up a kite.

“When I'm flying, nothing can touch me,” Connor said. “I forget about my troubles and I just have so much fun. It takes away all the drama and problems in my life at that moment.”

His mother, with five American Kite Association grand-national championships under her wing, is the original kite-flyer in the family. In 2007, when Amy was competing at a kite festival in Oregon, Connor picked up a single-line kite. After that, he flew different kinds of kites, including the difficult four-line Revolution kite, and quickly mastered them.

When Connor told Amy he wanted to audition for “America's Got Talent,” she discouraged him.

“I was nervous about him getting made fun of or getting hurt,” she explained. “He finally convinced me to send them his video. I remember getting the email telling us that they wanted him to try out. I was taught by my then 17-year-old son that I needed to wake up and believe in myself and in him. If he has a mind to do something, I don't doubt that he will do it every time.”

Connor never anticipated the results of being on national television.

“I didn't realize how much of an impact I would make,” he said. “I got so many letters from people and still get letters today. I'm a small voice saying that kite-flying is therapeutic.”

He looks forward to introducing people to indoor kite-flying because it has helped him so much. Connor and his mother bring the program to venues across the United States with one loud and clear theme:

“My message to you, no matter who you are, is to believe in yourself,” Connor said. “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Anna Marie Lux is a columnist for The Gazette. Her columns run Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call her with ideas or comments at (608) 755-8264, or email amarielux@gazettextra.com.

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