Six months after amputation, Upstate teen gets surprise from pro anglers

Conner Kelly met three pro anglers who were inspired by his positivity following a traumatic accident that left him with one arm.
Conner Kelly met three pro anglers after lacrosse practice Thursday evening. Fisherman inspired by his positivity following arm amputation.
Published: Mar. 10, 2022 at 11:54 PM EST
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DUNCAN, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Conner Kelly is a 10th-grade student at James F. Byrnes High School. As an avid outdoorsman, he’s inspiring others to be their best despite a traumatic experience.

Back in September, the teen was working in his front yard when his arm was caught in a hay baler. Because of his love for hunting and fishing, his first thought left him to wonder about his future.

“What am I going to do,” Conner asked himself. “How am I going to fish and hunt?”

Tonya, his mother, says the injury was so bad that doctors had no choice but to amputate.

“I was in shock and wanted to cry,” Tonya remembered. “But you know what, he never gave up. He’s been inspirational to me.”

An inspiration and source of encouragement to many others.

Conner’s math teacher, Brady Trout is organizing fundraising efforts to help the sophomore with prostheses and medical bills. The two share a bond over fishing and hunting.

“And November 2, 35 days later he went fishing with his brother and caught fish,” according to Trout. “35 days, I don’t know if I can do it. I don’t know many people in this world that could.”

Last week during the Bassmaster Classic, some of the fishermen heard about Conner’s story. After all, they share a love for the same water sport.

Jacob Powroznik, Greg Hackney, and Anthony Gagliardi showed up at Conner’s lacrosse practice on Thursday to help put a smile on the teen’s face.

“What happened to Conner was tragic, it could have went a lot of different ways,” Powroznik said.

“We’re not here to inspire, we’re here because we are inspired by Conner,” Gagliardi said.

Forced to now live with one arm is an adjustment for Conner, but he’s getting back to the things he loves the most.

“I think it’s [more] fun than fishing with two hands,” Conner said.

“This past February tournament at Keowee, he had one of the best finishes he’s ever had,” Iris Robinson, the fishing coach at Byrnes, said.

While his physical appearance will forever be different, he’s not letting it get him down.

“Whatever happens in life, just let it happen,” Conner said. “God’s got a plan and you’re going to do good either way.”

A golfing benefit will be held in Conner’s honor on March 26 at Mountainview Par 3. It will cost $40 per person, and fish plates will also be sold for $10. Desserts, and a silent auction will be held.

You can also donate to this gofundme if you’d like.