KENT, Washington — Nobody believes in Connor Doran more than his mom. But he says even SHE didn't think he could make it to NBC's America's Got Talent. "I just didn't listen to her and I said, 'I don't care, I want to do it,'" Doran says.
He was a fan of the show and had a vision. "I pictured myself flying my kite up on that stage." And fly he did...all the way to the top 12. Now he flies anywhere he can find a high ceiling. "I would sneak in my high school gym every day and practice for like two hours."
He's battled epilepsy, a learning disorder, and doubts his whole life -- especially when it comes to flying indoors. "They don't think it's possible." It's the opposite of flying outside. "You actually don't want wind. Moving the kite around, that's creating the wind for you. If I stayed in one place, the kite would just fall down."
He says he finds himself by losing himself: though he is controlling it, the kite takes him somewhere else. "It just gets me in the zone."
He was a natural from the start, as his first competition in Long Beach. "I flew it all around the gym and I won third place the next day!"
He even invented his own move, where the kite soars just overhead as he pulls it towards him. "The reason I called it the matrix is because of how close the kite is to you."
His kite also took him all the way to Italy last month. He was invited to fly an indoor kite outdoors at a festival there. "It's not easy to do. I could've easily shattered my kite to pieces." He says kiting is huge in Europe. He was also honored there for his work to increase epilepsy awareness.
He says he enjoys flying outside equally. Like on his European trip when he was flying a "stacked" kite, which is six kites in one...and three others randomly joined in. "And we all just started doing like precision maneuvers kinda like the Blue Angels. There were like hundreds of people videotaping and thousands of people watching from the sidelines."
Connor kind of felt "on the sidelines" when Northwest Center came alongside and helped him find a job. They told us about his story. "I definitely have a lot of support. Whereas if I didn't, I would definitely feel a lot more intimidated and alone."
But no matter what, he always has his kite. "Once I pick the kite up, it's just something I can't put down."
He's off to Kenosha, Wisconsin next week to fly in front of a couple of schools as part of his "Dare to Dream" program.