Daring young mentor on the flying trapeze | NevadaAppeal.com

Daring young mentor on the flying trapeze

Jarid Shipley
Appeal Staff Writer

Michael Cota, 7, practices on a Razor scooter while his mentor, Jeremy Falconer, watches. Falconer has several unique skills, but said the best thing he does is mentor children. Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal

In just 21 years, Jeremy Falconer has learned how to do some amazing things. He is comfortable on the trapeze and recently learned how to perform on large suspended silk ribbons. He learned both after recovering from near blindness in one eye.

But the 2003 Carson High School graduate said the most impressive thing he does is spend time with Michael Cota, the 7-year-old he mentors.

“I like making a difference in a kid’s life,” Falconer said. “Hopefully, (Michael) will pass it on when he gets older.”

Three years ago, Falconer took a job teaching hockey at an adventure camp. While he was there, another instructor taught him the circus arts, including being a catcher on the trapeze.

“I got pretty good at it, and the lady who runs the camp owns a small circus in Indiana and offered me a job if I move out there,” he said.

Shortly before leaving for the camp, Falconer had a corneal transplant to repair damage to his left eye. He will eventually need the same surgery for his right eye, or he will go blind.

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Now Falconer, a 2003 Carson High School graduate, works as bus driver for Douglas County and going to Western Nevada Community College. He hopes to become an elementary school teacher.

In between the job and the schoolwork, Falconer finds at least three hours a week to spend with Michael.

“It’s important, so I just balance my schedule and work things in. Sometimes stuff gets put off for a while, but that’s just what you have to do,” Falconer said. “I try to make 28-hour days instead of 24, and that helps.”

He met Michael through the Western Nevada Mentoring Program, which he joined through WNCC. He has been Michael’s mentor since August.

“I can already see the effect it has on him. He is more outgoing and less shy. When I first met him, he didn’t say a word to me,” Falconer said.

While he knows that he won’t be able to spend time with Michael forever, Falconer said he wants to stay in contact with him even after they part ways.

“I don’t know what I will do after graduation, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be back East somewhere. I still want to be part of his life, to continue to talk to him and let him know he can count on me,” Falconer said.

As for Michael, he just likes having someone to spend time with.

“I like spending time with him because he’s nice,” Michael said. “Also because he’s a little nuts.”

• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at jshipley@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.