Our Opinion: Brainerd lakes area steps up for Conner

The community over the years has time and again shown how giving it can be for myriad causes.

Brainerd Dispatch editorial
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Few things make as strong a statement as when a community rallies to support one of its own.

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Not only is voting one of our most cherished, fundamental rights, it also is one of the best ways in which we can collectively make our voices heard on the direction we’d like to see the country go.

Look no further than the Brainerd lakes area, which has stepped up — and then some — to show its support for Conner Erickson, the 17-year-old Brainerd High School student and senior captain of the Warriors football team who collapsed on the sidelines during a Sept. 9 football game at Moorhead.

Conner suffered a severe brain injury and was rushed to Sanford Hospital in Fargo, where he has been recovering.

And while Conner worked to heal himself, area residents — and people from across the state and nation — stepped up to do their part to help Conner and his family.

A GoFundMe page set up for the Erickson family had as of Thursday morning raised over $78,000 toward a goal of raising about $100,000 to help offset costs of Conner’s medical bills.


The Teehive, a local Brainerd business owned by the Clough family, started a fundraiser selling shirts to support Conner and his family. As of Monday that effort had raised over $17,000.

The owners of Blaze Pizza and Firehouse Subs in Baxter also held a benefit Wednesday, Sept. 21, with proceeds from the day going to Conner and his family.

And the support hasn’t just been financial. Football teams from across the state have also stepped up to offer moral support and best wishes for Conner. The Minnesota Golden Gophers football players and coaches all wrote and signed letters to Conner and head coach P.J. Fleck also sent a signed oar — exemplifying his mantra to “Row the boat” and never give up — to Conner. Other Brainerd area and central Minnesota high school football teams have honored Conner with banners or wearing Conner’s football number on their uniforms.

“Wow is all we can say,” Conner’s family said on his GoFundMe page. “We are so blown away and overwhelmed by the support for Conner.”

It’s heartwarming to see the Brainerd lakes area step up to help Conner as it has helped countless others in the past. This community over the years has time and again shown how giving it can be for myriad causes.

Even better news, though, is that Conner is making small steps for recovery. On Monday, Sept. 19, he was taken off a ventilator and off sedation and started occupational and physical therapy sessions. On Tuesday he was moved out of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Sanford to a standard pediatric room.

His family said it best on Conner’s CaringBridge page: “This is a huge step in the right direction, but there is still a long road to recovery ahead.”

We wish nothing but the best for Conner and his family on their long journey toward recovery.


And well done Brainerd lakes area. You’ve all shown once again the spirit of caring and generosity is alive and well in our communities.

The Brainerd Dispatch Editorial Board members are Dispatch and Echo Journal Publisher Pete Mohs, former Dispatch Publisher Terry McCollough, Dispatch Editor Matt Erickson, Dispatch Managing Editor Renee Richardson and Echo Journal Editor Nancy Vogt.
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