When things seem impossible — feats too physical, tasks too tall — there’s a gentle, nurturing voice that speaks to Pat O’Hara from the recesses of his mind: you never give up if you chase your dreams.
It’s the voice of his mother, Lena, the one who, along with husband Mike, adopted O’Hara and his identical twin brother, Steven, back in 1989. It’s the voice of the stay-at-home mom who washed the grass stains out of the clothes belonging to two boys who loved nothing more than to play soccer and spend time outdoors.
And it’s the voice of the maternal caretaker who, as colon cancer ravaged her body, urged her son to get a degree and chase his dreams of becoming a professional athlete.
It’s his mother’s memory that O’Hara reaches for most often nowadays, more than a year after her death. She never saw him attain his dreams of becoming a professional athlete — the second-round selection (16th overall) of the Phoenix Rise in the 2015 National Pro Grid League Draft — but O’Hara’s No. 1 fan remains his motivation.
“I don’t care how bad I hurt on the GRID — whether it’s a movement, I’m suffering, I’m tired — I just think of my mom most of the time,” the 26-year old said. “If she can fight through cancer at some of the times when she’s at her worst and she can live to see another day, live to fight another day, by all means I’m going to get this bar off the ground as fast as I possibly can. She’s so much of my motivation and inspiration from a day-to-day basis.”