Hometown Funds ‘Bucket List’ for Iraq Veteran

By Gillian Mohney

Dec 13, 2011 2:58pm

An Iraq veteran suffering from terminal cancer is getting help completing his “bucket list,” after residents of his hometown started a fund for the former soldier.

Kelly O’Brien, a 31-year-old Army veteran, was diagnosed with terminal synovial sarcoma earlier this year after complaining of chest pains.  After his diagnosis, O’Brien moved back to his hometown of Priest River, Idaho,  where locals have started collecting money to make sure that O’Brien can afford to do the things he loves.

Angela Bradbury, who attended high school with O’Brien, kicked off the fundraising by opening a bank account in O’Brien’s name to accept donations.

Bradbury, who had lost touch with O’Brien after high school, was moved to act after finding out about his diagnosis over Facebook. “It just broke my heart because he fought overseas,” Bradbury told ABC News. “I just figured we should do something for him because he did stuff for us.”

O’Brien was touched by the outpouring of support. “I’m blessed out here. They don’t even know me and they want to do stuff for me,” O’Brien told ABC News Affiliate KXLY 4.

O’Brien’s older brother Tracy, who is currently taking care of him, says he is proud of how his neighbors acted.

“It took me back definitely. It’s pretty amazing to say the least,” Tracy O’Brien told ABC News. “Our community, a small little community, steps up.”

While O’Brien’s diagnosis is dire, it hasn’t stopped him from compiling a “bucket” list full of daring activities, including sky diving, bungee jumping, and cliff diving.  Tracy O’Brien says that’s these extreme activities are just indicative of who his brother is. “My brother’s kind of crazy and just a free spirit. Anything extreme he really enjoys doing,” said Tracy.  ”I just say what is the matter with you?”

Even with terminal cancer, Tracy says his brother wants to use the attention his illness is garnering to help others. O’Brien says he wants to draw attention to the health affects other Iraq veterans are suffering from. “[He wants to] make people are aware that these people are fighting for our freedom and coming back with crazy strange diseases,” said Tracy O’Brien.

But as Kelly O’Brien faces his own terminal diagnosis, his brother says he hasn’t let it define him.

“My brother I’m telling you that kid he is tough,” Tracy O’Brien told ABC News.  “He has a tumor twice the size of his heart attached to his heart. It has slowed him down, [but] it hasn’t stopped him.”

 

 

 

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