John O’Leary, a native St. Louisan, motivational speaker and best-selling author, shared the remarkable and inspiring story of his life with students, parents, faculty and staff on November 29. In 1987, O’Leary was burned over 100% of his body at age nine following an accident at home. He was given a less than one percent chance to survive, but survive he did, against all odds. His book, On Fire: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life, was an instant #1 national bestseller, and chronicles his amazing journey to recovery and life lessons he has learned along the way.
O’Leary spoke to riveted audiences. “I’m not going for your minds, I’m going for your hearts,” he said to begin his remarks. He shared the story of his accident and of the heroes in his life who gave him the courage to keep fighting against incredible odds. Among the people who helped him was Hall of Fame Cardinals Broadcaster Jack Buck, who visited O’Leary regularly in the hospital and kept in touch with him for the remainder of his life. “He said to me, ‘kid, wake up. You are going to live. Keep fighting,’ and his encouragement left me on fire for life.” He went on to explain that Jack Buck was an example of a person who lived an inspired life by asking the question, “What more can I do?”
In his book, On Fire, O’Leary reflects on the seven life-changing choices he made that ensured hi survival and his ability to ignite a radically inspired life. “You can’t always choose the path that you walk in life, but you can always choose the manner in which you walk it,” he said.
He is the founder of Rising Above, a lifestyle organization designed to help people and companies live inspired. He speaks to 50,000 people each year in live events.