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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Well-traveled athlete, West Valley graduate, helps others

West Valley’s Cameron Conner coaches youngsters during a wrestling workout at a Team Aggression East youth wrestling practice on March 24 at West Valley High School in Spokane Valley. (Tyler Tjomsland)
West Valley’s Cameron Conner coaches youngsters during a wrestling workout at a Team Aggression East youth wrestling practice on March 24 at West Valley High School in Spokane Valley. (Tyler Tjomsland)
Treva Lind treva.lind@comcast.net

Cameron Conner spent most of his freshman year traveling the world.

Six months of trekking with his parents took him to Peru, Spain, Nepal and Morocco.

“It was incredible,” Conner said. “Traveling has been a large part of my life.”

His parents, Denise Attwood and Ric Conner, travel often for their wholesale business providing fair trade handcrafts from Nepal to stores in the U.S. and Canada. While he values the trips, Conner wanted to stay put for a final three years of high school at West Valley.

“I made my parents promise after my freshman year they would let me be a real high school student,” Conner said.

Although firmly planted since 2011, Conner has kept on the move. With a 3.87 GPA, he’s busy with academics, including AP biology and Running Start. He was a Spokane Scholar nominee for social studies.

He joined West Valley’s varsity wrestling team and served as team captain this year at 5-foot-4 and 126 pounds. He never wrestled before his sophomore-year recruitment.

“It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done, because it teaches you so much self-discipline; that transfers to anything you do,” said Conner, who made regionals as a sophomore and state his junior year.

Mike Bundy, varsity wrestling coach, said Conner volunteered to help him coach kids ages 5 to 12 in the club wrestling league, Washington Little Guys.

“If I had only one word to describe Cameron it would be determined,” Bundy said. “He wants to excel in whatever he does.”

Tennis came more naturally as a sport Conner has played since age 7, often with his grandfather. Seeded first in the district tournament for doubles last year, he served as team captain this year and was top West Valley player for singles.

He also has kept an international focus and won a Chase Youth Award for cultural awareness. Last summer, he co-founded the nonprofit, Conscious Connections Foundation, to fund youth programs ranging from Nepalese girls’ education to youth tennis at the East Central Community Center in Spokane. CCF ties into nonprofits helping to subsidize education for about 180 girls in Nepal who each need $5 per student for a month of education.

Conner thought up one way to raise money for CCF: crafting dog toys called Chew Toys for Change that use recycled materials. The group asks for a $5 donation per dog toy. After the recent earthquake in Nepal, he said some of CCF’s fundraising is now supporting emergency relief in that country.

“We collected a whole bunch of used climbing ropes from Wild Walls that you can’t use after a certain date,” he said. “Obviously, there’s a surplus of tennis balls floating around the world. We drill holes in them and use the ropes to make a whole dog toy.”

His family lives in Cheney, but Conner said West Valley was a good fit. He plans to attend Whitman College, although travel may beckon first.

“I might forgo school for one year and volunteer or do an internship in Nepal.”

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