He has a car wash and detail business. He drives around in an orange Kubota side-by-side tractor, carrying all of the materials he needs, offering his time and services for $10. His neighbors call whenever they need their cars vacuumed or washed or their rims, tires, interior or chrome detailed. His name is Connor Millen, and he is a 2010 Sultana High School graduate just shy of his 18th birthday on June 1.


And Millen has done all this despite, being born with a heart defect and being diagnosed with cancer two years ago.


Millen was the 125th baby to get a heart transplant at Loma Linda University Medical Center on July 31, 1992. The transplant was necessary because of a birth defect on the right side of his heart known as Ebstein's anomaly.


"He has to take medication that keeps his immune system suppressed. He's more susceptible to illness," said Shannon Millen, Connor's mother and a biology teacher at Sultana High School. "He gets more tired than the 'normal' population. It made school a challenge for him."


To make matters even more difficult, Millen discovered a swelling in his lymph glands about two years ago. Biopsy results came back positive for lymphoma, a type of cancer relating to cells in the immune system.


The cancer then spread to his tonsils, forcing Millen to have a tonsillectomy. The cancer later reappeared in his abdomen.


With all other avenues exhausted, Millen began chemotherapy in April 2009, and received therapy twice a week for three months.


"It was devastating when we found out he was diagnosed with cancer, absolutely devastating," said his mother. "He was so strong through the whole thing."


Despite the circumstances, Millen still managed to keep up with his schoolwork, earning an overall grade point average of 3.04. Jo Ann Gonzales, a childhood development teacher at Sultana High School, served as Millen's teacher as a part of the Homebound Hospital Program for about one and a half years.


"It was his determination, his will, his desire to graduate," she said. "It lifts your spirits as a teacher to see that."


To deal with the stress and to take his mind off his circumstances, Millen said he focuses on his passions, car audio equipment and electronics. Though his mom said he is not a "man of many words," his eyes light up whenever anything technical is mentioned. In high school, he took two periods of video production every quarter.


"The teacher [Mr. Brown] was nice, I learned a lot of cool, new things, and it was fun," he said.


Millen plans on taking welding classes at Victor Valley College and possibly pursuing a major associated with computers or car audio. He said his long-term goal is to work at Apple Computer.


Millen channels this same determination into his car wash and detail service. However, he doesn't just limit himself to working on cars. Sometimes he assists his neighbors with various other jobs, such as painting their barns and fences.


"He's so dependable because he just listens to his little iPod, and he's just out there painting the fence, and we have to be like, 'Connor, take a break,'" said neighbor Donna Davis.


Millen plans to continue his business over summer, expanding it by outfitting an auto-detail trailer. After having nearly one year of clean PET scans, he is currently in remission and said he is ready to "have a birthday party and have fun."


"You have to live and learn and deal with [cancer] as it comes. You have to try to make the best of it," he said. "Try to ignore it as much as possible and have fun."


Not only have those around Millen motivated him to achieve his goal of graduating and to pursue his electronic dreams, they said he's impacted them as well.


"Nothing deterred him," said Gonzales. "He's definitely an inspiration."


"He's a really great kid and we're so fortunate that he's our neighbor," Davis said. "We're really blessed."


Alaina Bird serves as an intern at the Hesperia Star. She is a 2009 graduate of Sultana High School and currently is a journalism major at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego.