Connection personified: Conner & Cayden Long . . .
It isn’t often that LeBron James is upstaged.
Someone – or something – special is required to steal the spotlight from the Miami Heat hero and all-round sporting superstar. From time to time, however, it does happen. On such occasions, LeBron doesn’t seem to mind.
During a recent ceremony, convened to celebrate his awe-inspiring ability, LeBron found himself playing second fiddle to two boys from Tennessee. Their names are Conner and Cayden Long, they’re aged nine and seven respectively, and are brothers. This is their story . . .
Cayden – the younger Long brother – has cerebral palsy and, as a result, is unable to walk or talk. On his own there’s little that Cayden can do. It’s just as well that Cayden isn’t on his own.
You see, Conner is determined to ensure that his brother isn’t left out, so much so that the pair do everything together. They’ve even been known to compete in triathlons.
Conner does the hard part – pushing Cayden in a special stroller, or pulling him along on a raft or in a cart – but the enjoyment is shared. Team Long Brothers (as they’re known) never finish first, but the enjoyment that Cayden gets from taking part, and the satisfaction that Conner feels as a result, is prize enough. The special bond that the pair share – the most profound connection imaginable – is the real reward here.
‘The boys are so, so close,’ explains Jenny, Conner and Cayden’s mom, whose pride couldn’t be greater. ‘I always felt that Conner wanted to do a lot of things with Cayden, but Cayden can’t just get up and go outside. They’ve found their love together, their passion and, ever since that first race, they’ve bonded on a different level, one that I can’t even explain’.
This, incidentally, was all Conner’s idea, one that stemmed from the strong connection that is felt between brothers and one that has captured hearts – ours included – the Earth over.
‘The thing I like best about it is that if we’re together, I don’t have to do it by myself,’ Conner says. ‘Without Cayden, it wouldn’t be a team. I didn’t want him to be left on the sidelines because that isn’t fair for him. He still has regular feelings like we do and he understands what people are saying about him.’
In sticking up for his brother, in supporting him and in putting himself through such physical exertion in order to involve Cayden, Conner is an inspiration. To the team here at OM®, to LeBron James, who upon being named as Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year for 2012, admitted that Conner and Cayden’s achievements overshadowed his own. Hearing about the Long Brothers brought LeBron close to tears. We’d like you to watch this short film. It will touch you too.
There’s little more for us to add, other than this: Conner and Cayden are connection personified. Theirs is an example for us all to follow, brothers or not, to be closer to one another, to embrace all that we have in common and to overcome the obstacles that stand before us.
To do things for each other. To do things together. To put in the hard miles. To pull each other along. To bond. To connect.
Here’s to two special boys. Two special boys who have made our morning. Two special boys who have left us all feeling rather inspired . . .