John OLeary

John O’Leary – How A 9 Year Old Burn Survivor Rose from the Ashes

When he was 9 years old, John O’Leary, from St. Louis, Missouri, was playing in his garage when his parents weren’t home.  He lit a match then put it in a gas can to see what would happen.  It created a big explosion and set him on fire.

John was burned, severely, over 95% of his body. Doctors said there was almost zero chance that he would live.

He was in the hospital for weeks.  John, amazingly, pulled through and is still alive today.

But since those days many years ago, John has not only has he survived, he has thrived. John is now a very successful author, speaker, businessman, father, and husband. And he has dedicated his life to inspiring others.

Here is a video that describes John’s journey.  His life story will leave you in awe and it is one of the most amazing that we’ve featured on InspireMyKids.

Please note that some images of John in the hospital are not suitable for younger children:

Additional Resources:

Topics for Discussion:

  • What is most special about John O’Leary?
  • Do you consider John to be successful? Inspiring? Why?
  • What character traits does John exhibit?
  • What obstacles do you have in your life? Do you let them bring you down? How can you look at them differently and use them to make you better?
  • Talk about a person who has overcome a lot of challenges in their life.  Is there anything you can learn from them?

Take Action:

  • Support a charity that helps child burn victims such as Burned Children Recovery Center
  • Start a fire safety prevention program in your school like this The Junior Fire Marshall Program. Tell your parent or teacher about it.
  • Choose one thing in your life where have a challenge that holds you back.  How can you think about this and act differently? Start doing it and see how it makes you feel.
  • Work hard at something that matters to you.  Find a cause that you care about, such as animals, and find something you can do to help. Click here for a great list of ideas to help animals from the ASPCA or here for ways to help the environment

Teacher Features:

  • Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for elementary school students.
  • Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for middle school students.



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