A True Hero
Merriam-Webster defines a hero as, Someone admired for achievements or noble qualities. Also, One who shows great courage. Actually, I think they only needed two words to define a true hero, Terry O’Hara. Now, I don’t use that word lightly, but on March 10th 2017 we lost a man whom I believe exemplified what it means to be a hero. Terry O’Hara was a husband, father, son, and brother. Many people called him a friend and even more who never met the man - myself included - considered him an inspiration and a warrior.
Terry’s response to his cancer diagnosis is why I believe he’s truly a hero. See, a hero doesn’t act for attention, praise, or self-enrichment. They do what is needed because it must be done. A hero is willing to stand up and answer the call, putting others needs before their own. Their actions are for the greater good. Terry used his cancer diagnosis as a platform, not for personal gain, but to help others. That’s a key distinction of a true hero, they are selfless. From what I know that word describes Terry O’Hara. Selfless.
I witnessed several times personally on Twitter (his social media platform) when Terry reached out to people in dire straits and offered his unwavering support. Terry extended a helping hand, an ear to listen, and a reassuring voice at a time of great peril for countless men and women. He did this online, over the phone, and during face-to-face encounters. He didn’t have to do this, heaven knows he had his own struggles, but he wanted to assist others. It was his mission in life as he battled a vicious disease. Go on Twitter or Facebook and read the testimonials from people that knew Terry or interacted with him. It’s mind-blowing when you stop and realize how many people this man touched. I truly believe based on the stories I’ve read he saved lives at the same time he fought for his own. His words had power, his encouragement uplifted, and his advice renewed the strength of people in need. Terry never bemoaned his diagnosis, in fact, he pointed out cancer went after the wrong person because he was a warrior, he would never give up, and he had the strength to fight the disease. His words.
Terry shared his story with those newly diagnosed with cancer and others who continued to battle this horrible disease until the end of his life. He assured those he encountered that, “No one fights alone,” and he meant it. With a smile on his face, Terry encouraged everyone he came in contact with to Stay In the Fight. No battle is too large, no war impossible to win. Even while in the hospital, when it was clear to many of us the end would come soon, Terry continued to fight. He simply didn’t know any other way.
Cancer may have won the last battle, but I truly believe Terry won the war. I can say that because the legacy he leaves is remarkable. Terry’s journey in this life may be over but his mantra moves forward, others will hear the rallying call and carry his torch. All of us must Stay In the Fight. No matter what. Sure, we will face obstacles along life’s journey, but it’s up to us to overcome whatever is thrown at us. Terry’s story reminds us we must never cower in the corner and hope the storm passes. We rise up and face the prevailing winds head on just like Terry. Give everything you have and don’t back down. Not until the war is won, or the journey comes to an end. Never give up.
While in the hospital, a week before he passed, I sent Terry a message. Sadly, it was the last correspondence with him. His last words to me mean so much now that he’s gone. He said, “It’s all about legacy.” I’ve considered those words ever since that day. They were a beautiful reminder and a challenge all at the same time.
What will be your legacy? Have you considered what impact you’ve life will have made when the last battle ends? We may not reach countless people like Terry, but we can make a difference. Small efforts add up and before long equate to real results. Lasting impacts for the greater good. My challenge to you as well as myself is this. Make it your mission to touch a life. Be a transformational figure to at least one person. This is what Terry did time and time again, and we can all strive to follow his lead.
I’m a better man for having known Terry O’Hara. Without question, A True Hero.
Rest in peace bro, we got it from here …