"Walk with me." – Speaker John O’Leary

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Tears flowed in between bouts of laughter as hearts learned the real power of love with guest speaker John O’Leary. Imagine taking all the emotions you’ve ever felt and combined them into one. That was the feeling during Saturday’s MannaFest session.

O’Leary knows the power of belief in self. Burned over 90% of his body as a child, he lived with unimaginable pain and suffering, but chose love over fear. He overcame incredible odds and not only survived, but thrived. His personal stories and touching photos empowered guests to use their God-given abilities to achieve greatness in life.

The Power of Love

On that first day in the hospital, he asked his mother if he was going to die. His mother bravely replied, “Do you want to die?” O’Leary answered “No.”  His mother continued, “Then take the hand of God and fight like you’ve never fought before.”

And he did! “Yes, we all hurt,” he said. “We’ve all been burned. On bad days, we are the last people others want to see. But, we can change. We need to believe in ourselves, and fight, whatever that fight is for you.” O’Leary invited the audience to turn to a neighbor and say, “I love you and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

The Power of Why

“When you know your why, you can endure anything,” said O’Leary. He shared the story of Nurse Roy, a man who always lifted John’s child body up to dangle his legs, saying, “You are going to walk again. You might as well get used to it.”

We must turn down the fear and faithfully listen. “Nurse Roy believed in the possible,” said O’Leary. “Just think about the pain he went through, not mine. Folks, it’s about the mission, the love, the beliefs … the miracles.”

The Power of More

With only his hearing intact, O’Leary persevered while in the hospital because of powerful words from visitors that continually filled him with hope.

One such visitor was Hall of Fame baseball commentator, Jack Buck. Jack repeatedly visited John during his five months in the hospital, delivering words of encouragement. John heard that same familiar voice week after week, “Kid, I’m back. Wake up, you are going to live.”

He brought John a signed baseball and told him that if he wrote a thank-you note (even though John’s fingers had been amputated), he’d receive more. (John ended up receiving 60 signed balls.)

“You hear a lot more when your eyes are shut,” O’Leary said.  “Jack changed my life. He believed in me.”

What does John’s story mean for YOU?

If you still think that one phone call or that one conversation can’t make a different, think again. Take action, take that risk. Believe in yourself.

O’Leary told the audience, “If you leave here saying ‘Wow, John has an amazing story,’ then I’ve failed. But if you leave here saying, ‘I can make a difference, too,’ then I’ve helped you.”

“Do you believe one person can make a difference? You better believe it.” O’Leary said. “Know that your work makes a difference. Commit to love fully, follow your why and thrive!”

After the presentation, guests were invited to purchase a CD and Overwhelming Odds, a book John O’Leary’s parents wrote about him.

1 Response

  1. Kim Kroeger says:

    Powerful story about a man who had faith and fought to overcome. Powerful feeling when your loved.

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