Monday February 1, 2016

The events of the past few days have been nothing short of spectacular for me and Dan. So many opportunities to talk about Shannon. Saying her name and hearing it said was so heartwarming.

Backtrack to Thursday when we had a lovely recognition dinner at the Mayo Foundation House in Rochester. Thanks to a generous major gift from Dan's sister Mary, Mayo Clinic invited us to dinner and, since Mary's gift is directed towards the lab doing research on Shannon's cells, Dr. Richard Vile was invited to join us.

The Foundation House was part of O'Hara family history, even though most of Dan's family had never been inside. See, the O'Hara kids would walk by the house every day on their way to school. They would play on the stone wall as they made their way. Someone joked that they might have actually thrown a snowball or two at the house! So, the fact that seven of the nine kids were at the dinner was very special.

Dr. Vile was delightful, sharing the story of how he came to Shannon's funeral and that inspired him to change the focus of his research. Working on pediatric cancers requires a special person and funding is incredibly sparse. Hearing him talk, we could all feel his passion and commitment.

We were also excited to hear that the research is progressing and that they've reached an important stage - the first three patients have been enrolled in a Phase 1 clinical trial at Mayo, using immunotherapy that was developed as a direct result of work done with Shannon's cells. How amazing is that?

Shannon is making a difference...

Friday meant no rest for the weary as Dan and I headed to Graham Arena for the Shannon Cup.  This past weekend was the younger group, with the U10 and U12 teams playing. While most of the Rochester teams know our story, these weekend provide the opportunity to share Shannon's story with teams from around the state. Our poster chronicling Shannon's journey always catches the attention of the moms. They can't imagine what it's like to lose a child. Dan and I take the opportunity to talk about Shannon and our foundation and how the money we raise at these events helps make Shannon's wishes come true.

The kids want to hear Shannon stories, and they also want to buy some Shannon gear! We had a new hockey lace hoodie that was flying of the shelves. The weekend total that was raised for the foundation was over $6000. Truly amazing.

So, we've got two more weeks of Shannon events ahead of us. Next weekend our SOF Board of Directors will meet to choose our 2016 scholarship recipients. Then, on Saturday afternoon, February 13th, we will present our scholarships during the Mayo vs. Century boys game.

Another season of spreading Shannon's message is almost over. A new group of girls has heard us talk about how Shannon was a good teammate and a good friend. Shannon wanted her life to matter, and it does.