APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) An Appleton East High School student is recovering at home after receiving a heart transplant a month ago. Kris Schuller reports on Friday that student’s mother came to visit to thank the school community for all of its support.
Inside the gym of Appleton East High School, a pep rally is underway. And Michele Boge sits waiting to take the microphone, to tell everyone assembled, thank you.
“The support from our community has been unreal,” said Boge.
This February while on vacation in Florida, Michele’s son, 15-year-old Connor Iwaoka fell ill. Doctors at the hospital said his heart was failing.
“Basically, over his years, his heart had enlarged and his body had been compensating and just couldn’t compensate anymore – so he had to have a transplant,” said Boge.
Airlifted to Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee surgeons gave him an artificial heart to keep him alive. A month later a donor was found.
“We just got lucky, not everybody gets that chance and we did,” Boge said.
During that time, students started asking questions about Connor’s absence and Connor’s teacher shared his dire situation.
“High school kids aren’t always very quiet, but you could hear a pin drop and they wanted to know what could we do – how can we help?” said Corey Otis.
Students took over selling #Connorstrong t-shorts and bead bracelets, as well as sending him so many get well cards.
“I think it’s so important to show that Appleton East High School is a community, we’re one, we all want to help our students and everyone around us,” said student Isabelle Abendroth.
“When he was reading the cards, they really helped him through some tough times, from all the people at East,” said Boge.
And so, on Friday Boge came to the school to tell these students thank you. Connor too in a video.
“I don’t know most of you, but I want to thank you all anyway, for all your support and concern and care for me and my condition,” said Connor Iwaoka, in a video played at the pep rally.
“I was raised in a family who always put others before themselves, just wanted to put out a helping hand,” said student Payton Wreath.
“It says a lot about the kids in this school,” said Otis.
“I can’t thank them enough. It’s just a small moment of a high schooler’s time, but it’s a lasting effect on our family,” Boge said.
The Appleton East High School community has donated thousands of dollars for Connor’s medical bills. A GoFundMe page is also set up for Connor.