A Father’s Day Love Story That Will Inspire Us All: John O’Leary


“Love is the fuel that overcomes fear of penalty. Love transforms the obligation of duty into an opportunity to serve others. Love is energizing and love never ends.” – Edie Varley

Determination. Resilience. Will. Vision. Courage.

These are some of the characteristics required to overcome adversity, take the next step forward, and thrive in life.

Yet beneath these muscular features exists a singular and common denominator, freeing us to overcome personal adversity, unite with others, and become much better versions of ourselves: love.

Love allows us to overcome our challenges – and it allows us to help others overcome theirs, too.

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Few people understand this truth better than the Hughes family of Louisville, Kentucky, and their son, Patrick Henry.

Born without eyes and with arms and legs that would never fully function, Patrick Henry Hughes entered this world with far more challenges than most.

His family refused to let him be defined by the things he couldn’t do. Instead, they chose to celebrate the many gifts he possessed, rejoice in the life that was perfectly his, and stoke his greatest passion: music.

Patrick Henry Hughes, who uses a wheelchair and is blind, played the trumpet in the University of Louisville Marching Band.

From his early days, Patrick Henry exudes a deep love for music. He started playing the piano early and by the age of 2 was accepting song requests from friends and family.

Growing up, Patrick Henry broadened his skills and started playing the trumpet. In high school he was so gifted that he was invited to join the University of Louisville Marching Band.

The father took notes in his son’s class

But how could a blind wheelchair trumpeter join a marching band?

Patrick Henry had a father who loved him.

Patrick John challenged his son to grow personally and never apologize. When presented with the opportunity to join the group, he encouraged his son to go and did everything imaginable to support this effort.

He worked nights so he could attend lessons with Patrick and take notes. He took him to the daily marching band practice, learned all the steps, and pushed his son’s wheelchair so Patrick could walk with the rest of the marching band.

In other words: Patrick John loved his son.

Love fuels the strength to serve

Love enables everyone to discover a strength we never knew we had, the ability to impact others in ways we never knew we could, and the potential to change the world one life at a time.

My friends, as we approach summer let us focus less on the challenges we face. Let’s focus more on celebrating the opportunities we have, those who walk with us, and the remarkable luck to be a part of this orchestra of life.

And happy Father’s Day to all the dads and father figures who have supported us and pushed us forward. They remind us that life depends much less on the instruments we have been given and much more on the choice to create beautiful music with those we have received.

It’s your day. Live inspired.

John O’Leary is the author of “In Awe”.

About Victoria Rothstein

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