Mom battles cancer as son chases NFL dream
Topeka (WIBW) — A Topeka family is attempting to beat the odds both on and off the football field as Topeka High graduate chases the dream of a lifetime, while his mother wages a fight for her life.
While Patrick O’Hara awaits the opportunity of a lifetime, he stays at the side of his mother, Lena, who is battling stage four cancer. She is receiving treatments at Stormont-Vail.
“They gave me a 50/50 chance and I’ve proved to them ‘no, you can fight’ and I’ve been fighting,” she said.
The O’Hara’s are known for beating the odds. Patrick, who played soccer at Topeka High and never played high school football, put together a video showcasing his ability to split the uprights from 65 yards away. That video caught the eye of Bob Stoops at Oklahoma, who invited him to walk-on.
“I had never put on a helmet and pads, so that was a bit overwhelming,” he recalled.
Patrick earned a starting spot during his freshman year and had earned a scholarship by his senior season. Now, come April, he could get a chance to kick in front of NFL scouts.
“The important thing is that I just get my foot in the door and go from there,” said Patrick.
Finding a place to kick hasn’t been easy for Patrick, but it’s his dedication to practice that’s driven him towards his NFL goal.
“I’ve been kicked out of every high school field in town,” he said. “Some are okay with me being on the field and others are not. I’m just trying to get better everyday.”
The other obstacle is finances. Their money is going to pay for Lena’s medical treatments, so Patrick is trying to raise the cash he needs to pay his way to those NFL workouts in Arizona and Detroit.
And he draws on his mother’s perseverance – each believing in the other to defy their separate odds.
“My journey has been long and hard, but I try to stay positive for my sons, so they can stay positive and reach their dreams,” said Lena.
A fundraising account has been set up for Patrick at gofundme.com where you can donate money to help send Patrick to the NFL Super Regional Workout in Detroit on April 12.
“They say the odds are about 2% of anyone making the NFL, but they gave my mom odds and she beat them, so I’m going to try to do the same and hope I end up playing on Sundays,” said Patrick.
By Nick Viviani