I have a disability called cerebral palsy (CP), which can affect a person’s motor coordination and ability to move and balance. This affects walking, talking, and doing regular daily tasks. In sixth grade I had surgery on my legs. This procedure required me to be in double leg casts for two to three months and use a wheelchair. I used leg braces to help straighten my growing feet and legs.
Not only did I have CP, but I was also an only child of two full-time working parents; therefore, there was not a lot to do other than video games. It wasn't until seventh grade that I found sports. One day my friend was going to join wrestling, and I thought “That sounds like fun!” But my doctor rejected my blue card, stating I could not participate in contact sports. I was devastated. So, I met with the coach, and he offered me the assistant coach position, which I accepted. The next two years were a good start to my athletic career. It felt like I had structure.
I wanted to be a mascot. I got accepted to Johnson & Wales University (JWU) and tried out for the cheer and mascot teams. I received a spot on both teams! I became best friends with JWU mascot Wildcat Willie, helping with fan engagement and entertaining people. My job was to recruit, schedule, and perform at games and events. And believe me, it was hard work trying to keep up with that cat!
Today, I am the mascot for the Worcester Woo Sox, and I strive to one day be affiliated with a major league baseball organization.
“In my time working with the Mascot Department at the Woo Sox, I have come to realize the immense toughness and dedication it takes to be a mascot actor. We have amazing staff on our team and Conor is no exception. He does not let his CP hold him back from being committed to the art of mascot acting. Conor, we are honored to have you on the team and support you in all that you do!” - Marianna Colantuono, Coordinator of Mascots & Live Ballpark Entertainment, Worcester Woo Sox
Finding a job was challenging. CP impacts my speech and mobility, so sometimes I can be misunderstood. During the pandemic, I was going crazy inside my house, so I applied for a job at Wegmans. I had applied to Wegmans in the past but wasn’t hired. But in May 2020, I was hired on the spot. This time, I believe that they were impressed with me. My passion for hospitality and my natural gift to connect with people helped me become successful. I was given the chance to show my abilities and was promoted to a manager position at Wegmans.
I reported to the Social Security Administration (SSA) that I was hired for full-time employment. I needed support with my benefits and found the Work Without Limits Employment Network (EN) program through SSA's Ticket to Work helpline. Work Without Limits EN Manager Marjorie Longo helped me report my income to SSA and appeal an overpayment.
For job seekers with disabilities:
“Do your research on disability-friendly companies. Wegmans tries to be the best in hiring people with disabilities.”
For employers seeking to hire individuals with disabilities:
“Interviews are not always an indicator of what a person with a disability can accomplish. Look beyond the disability and give individuals a chance to see if they are a good fit with opportunities to grow within the company.”
"I would like to advance my career with Wegmans and continue working with New England sports teams."