Video: Touchdowns Against Cancer 2019
Campaign raised nearly $120,000 to fight childhood cancer in September.
For Heffler, inspiration wasn't far away.
Future St. Augustine student Carter Santos is battling leukemia. Heffler could not wait to talk about the Saints' true star.
"I was inspired by (Carter), who is around the Saints community a lot. He was our main focus," Heffler said. "It's hard to imagine being in his shoes.
"Here I have this opportunity to play football and he is affected by cancer and not able to live like kids should be able to live. I think about him a lot. I pray for him a lot. We've all been lucky to be around Carter. He is a great story and truly inspiring."
St. Augustine director of athletics Matt Linville said the Santos family has deep connections to St. Augustine's school community through its support of Carter.
In addition to piling up scores in the Touchdowns Against Cancer campaign, the Saints sophomore class sends five to six students to help serve food at the St. Vincent DePaul homeless shelter every Wednesday. The entire campus fundraises throughout the year for the Augustinian Orphanage in Tijuana and St. Augustine does a food drive every year at Thanksgiving.
Linville stated that ‘Community' is one of the tenants of being an Augustinian and that the school's faculty and administration wants to make sure that St. Augustine students know, understand and appreciate that.
"Our students have embraced Carter and enjoy having him around and doing other things to let him know that we support him," Linville said.
St. Augustine raised over $6,500 during the month of September as part of the Touchdowns Against Cancer campaign, the fourth-highest team total nationally.
Heffler was a massive part of that effort as the senior linebacker was responsible for raising $4,100.
"Connor and the team did an amazing job of fundraising and publicizing Touchdowns Against Cancer and we're very proud of them for their individual and team efforts," Linville said. "As a lifelong teacher and coach, I can tell you that success and winning and hanging banners is all great and something to be proud of but at the same time, it's pretty awesome when we get young men to act selflessly and show their understanding of what it means to love one another and to give service to their community and fellow man."
According to St. Augustine head coach Joe Kremer, Heffler took the Touchdowns Against Cancer challenge and ran with it, much like he does when he's running down quarterbacks and ballcarriers from his linebacker position.
On the season, Heffler is second on the team with 42 tackles in addition to 12 tackles for loss, four sacks and an interception. He has also forced and recovered a fumble.
St. Augustine is 6-1 heading into this week's showdown with Cathedral Catholic (7-1).
"He is the kind of athlete you dream of coaching," Kremer said of Heffler. "I love Connor's work ethic. He works harder than most and has over a 4.0 GPA. He has a fantastic attitude and never misses a workout. Connor is the epitome of a Saintsman. He is selfless and cares about others. He wants to help others."
Kremer, who described Heffler's style of play as angry, said he couldn't take credit for any of St. Augustine's Touchdowns Against Cancer success. He credited Heffler for doing it all whether he was posting on social media or getting others involved.
This fall, the Touchdowns Against Cancer campaign raised $117,930 to help St. Jude Children's Research Hospital fight the disease. Over the past five years, TAC has raised $454,395.