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Kevin Michael Connolly to share story with Steamboat CMC students

Born without legs, photographer and athlete to share perspective

Author Kevin Michael Connolly will be speaking at 7 p.m. today at Bud Werner Memorial Library as part of the Common Reader Program. Community members are encouraged to read his memoir
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If you go

What: Kevin Michael Connolly, author of “Double Take”

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: Library Hall at Bud Werner Memorial Library, 13th Street and Lincoln Avenue

Cost: The event is free.





Author Kevin Michael Connolly will be speaking at 7 p.m. today at Bud Werner Memorial Library as part of the Common Reader Program. Community members are encouraged to read his memoir, “Double Take.”

If you go

What: Kevin Michael Connolly, author of “Double Take”

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: Library Hall at Bud Werner Memorial Library, 13th Street and Lincoln Avenue



Cost: The event is free.

— Kevin Michael Connolly stares at people all the time.



It’s a natural reaction to seeing something that doesn’t fit into a cultural definition of “normal,” the 25-year-old Montana resident said.

With that in mind, it doesn’t bother Connolly that his entire life people have stared right back.

Born without legs, Connolly’s world travels, photographic collections and action sports career have garnered him significant attention.

He’s lived his life subject to the “double take” — also the name of his memoirs, released last year — and he has nothing against it.

“We’re all curious,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you have a disability or not. Staring is just hardwired into all of us.”

Connolly will appear for a book talk and signing at 7 p.m. today in Library Hall at Bud Werner Memorial Library as a part of a five-day tour with the Colorado Mountain College Common Reader Program.

A suggested donation of $5 for the event goes to Eagle Mount in Helena, Mont., which helps provide recreational activities for people with disabilities.

Philanthropic efforts are a significant part of the Common Reader Program, designed to launch dialogue among CMC students, faculty, staff and the community.

CMC-Roaring Fork Instructional Chair Jane Szucs said the faculty and staff voted to have Connolly as the focus of the fourth annual Common Reader Program.

“For our students, (Connolly is) someone who has them question how they see themselves in relation to others,” she said. “When you see Kevin on a skateboard, people have stories based on their own perception in life. What we want our students to do is to really question, where did their stories come from?”

For Connolly, the most fascinating part of traveling the world and exchanging stares with people of different cultures was understanding the thought process behind the curiosity.

Some of those who stared assumed he was homeless, while others attributed his condition to various wars or conflicts in their country.

“Those stares and stories really stick to the places where they’re from,” he said.

In Colorado, he said, it’s no different. Connolly admitted that it was strange at first, going from a college student to the subject of Colorado Mountain College curriculum in just a few short years. But he can take advantage of the rapport he has with other young adults.

“That’s the only reason I could do this,” Connolly said about the tour. “I would have a hard time if I had to be esoteric and preachy, but it’s the opportunity to talk to a lot of peers.”

Szucs said the first four college visits in Breckenridge, Aspen, Rifle and Glenwood Springs have gone well.

“They love him,” Szucs said. “He’s funny and he’s engaging. He has just really powerful rapport and engagement with the students. They can relate when he says something like, ‘I went off and traveled across Europe and was a poor college student.’ They can relate to who he is as a normal 25-year-old.”

Connolly is an avid mono-skier who said his parents treated him no different than his siblings while growing up in Bozeman. He’s a two-time Winter X Games medalist and hopes to go for gold in Aspen this year. And he loves a powder day.

“The nice thing about the mono ski is being 3 1/2 feet tall,” he said. “You get that epic dump day (and) you need a snorkel.”

But his memoirs and his message aren’t meant to be an inspirational pep-talk about living with a disability, because for Connolly, pushing himself around on a skateboard is just part of life. Instead, his memoirs and message are about knocking back the universal tendency to judge others.

“While staring is a perfectly natural thing, I hope people walk away with a feeling of being a little more conscious about where they’re coming from with the narratives they construct,” Connolly said.


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