Salt Lake City natives Dave and Connor O’Leary competed as a father-and-son team in the most recent season.
In 2007, Dave O’Leary was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Luckily, the cancer was found early enough to cure through surgery. However, it was still a very painful and trying process.
Three years later, Connor O’Leary was diagnosed with testicular cancer and had to go through months of chemotherapy. He nearly died from blood clots developing in his lungs and in his heart.
Connor O'Leary has been in remission for the past two and half years. He had always wanted to try out for “The Amazing Race,” and after his experience with his own cancer as well as his father’s, he was determined to make an audition video.
“We went into the garage and sat on some stools and had one of his friends with a video camera shoot a short video,” Dave O’Leary said. “That was honestly the last I thought of it, but then I got an email when I was in Europe saying the producers were trying to reach us, and the rest is history.”
“The Amazing Race” focuses on values such as teamwork, culture and courage.
The O’Learys attribute much of their success to their ability to work as a team.
“The people who have the most problems in the race are typically the ones who don’t get along well as a team,” Dave O’Leary said. “I learned that even in times of adversity, if you’ve got a strong teammate and you’re willing to work together, you can make progress.”
The O’Learys did face adversity when Dave ruptured his Achilles tendon.
Although he was in a lot of pain, the father and his son continued on for two more legs of the race, winning each.
Eventually the time came for Dave O’Leary to have surgery and the two left the show without regrets.
“To be able to show people from our standpoint that we’ve both had cancer and were still able to do this was pretty amazing for us,” Dave O’Leary said.
“The Amazing Race” highlights various cultures across the world.
The O’Learys experienced the heat of the race in Bali, Indonesia. The sights were incredible, the challenges were unique, but most of all Dave O’Leary enjoyed meeting the Indonesian people.
“We saw a number of people who have far less than we do but that are incredibly happy,” he said. “They’re doing good things, they love each other and their families. That was inspiring to me.”
O’Leary was also inspired by the people involved with “The Amazing Race,” including the other contestants and the producers.
“There were these twin OBGYN doctors from Chicago who were terrified of water, yet they overcame it and went into these diving bells,” Dave O’Leary said. “I thought that was so incredible.”
The O’Leary's lives have been enriched even more since their experience on “The Amazing Race.”
“It’s life changing to see the world,” Dave O’Leary said. “It’s a big place and I’m anxious to continue seeing more and getting out of my comfort zone.”
Megan Marsden is an intern with the Deseret News writing for the Faith & Family section. She is currently a junior at BYU-Idaho studying communication.
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