Game Changers

The O'Hare Family: Inspiring Others and Sharing the Mission of Folds of Honor

By Keith Stewart, PGA
Published on

The O'Hare children.

Visit to join the mission.
She couldn’t get in touch with Tyler. Liz O’Hare saw the news and her heart sank. Tyler Brees is a Marine Sergeant and part of the team helping evacuate Afghanistan last summer. He is also her fiancé. The broadcast of a bombing in the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan last August instantly took her back twenty years earlier when her father passed away. Ray O’Hare served as a Navy pilot and perished during a training flight in 2000.
For the hours that followed, Liz recalled her emotions from decades ago and quite recently. Liz O’Hare is a Folds of Honor scholarship recipient. Lt. Colonel Dan Rooney’s Foundation that started in 2007 gave Liz the opportunity to attend Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg Maryland. O’Hare’s perspective on her current situation had been shaped by her experience since graduating from college.
In May of 2019, Liz was asked by her school to speak at graduation. At nearly the same time, she also received a call from the Folds of Honor Foundation. They invited Liz to their Patriot Golf Day celebration in Oklahoma as a scholarship recipient so she might share her story. Liz accepted this awesome opportunity with one caveat, could she bring someone with her.
Colleen and Raymond O'Hare.
Colleen and Raymond O'Hare.
Colleen and Ray O’Hare met while attending Harvard. The two got married and started a beautiful family with three amazing children: Katie, Elizabeth and Tommy. From that terrible day in 2000, Colleen raised the O’Hare family on her own. When Ray’s tragedy first happened, the kids were little. Years after Ray’s passing, it became evident Colleen was going to need some help.
Raymond O'Hare and his children.
Raymond O'Hare and his children.
In 2013, she went to Google in search of financial assistance for her kids’ education. What began as blind search, returned with the Fold of Honor Foundation. She quickly started the application process for her children and the O’Hare relationship with Folds of Honor had begun. Aware of the positive impact Folds of Honor had on her family, mom accepted her daughter’s invitation and headed to Oklahoma.
The 2019 Patriot Golf Day celebration honoring the families of Folds of Honor was the first time Liz and Colleen O’Hare spoke on behalf of the foundation. Admittingly, both are not comfortable as public speakers. For different reasons of gratitude, they both pushed back their fears and carried on as advocates. Colleen was thankful her children had the opportunity to attend school, and Liz was thankful not just for the education, but the financial flexibility her paid education gave her when she graduated.
Today, both O’Hares participate as active members of the Folds of Honor speaker’s bureau. Together they take every instance they can engaging others to support Dan Rooney’s original mission. In speaking with Liz, she realized how fortunate she was to have such financial support. Talking on behalf of Folds of Honor opens your world to a vast number of families who have not received the same assistance she did.
The O'Hares.
The O'Hares.
Colleen continues to share the mission of Folds of Honor in every conversation she can. Whether she speaks to one or one hundred, she clearly believes in the specific purpose. She has found through sharing her experience that there’s a large community out there in need of help. Her family’s story of success would not have been possible without Folds of Honor. Her gratitude comes out as she connects with others.
She was lucky, her search started and ended online. For others, the search continues every day. Colleen continues to connect with as many families and donors as she can. She’s confident with the leadership behind Folds of Honor, their outreach will be able to help more military families every year. Creating awareness can be difficult when sharing the story of a lost loved one. Colleen even became emotional as we spoke on the phone. 
Courage isn’t limited to just those who serve. It takes strength to support service men and women as well. The O’Hare’s aren’t orators. They put themselves out there because the gratitude they feel drives them unconditionally.
Liz waited for hours to hear from her fiancé Tyler. This moment exemplified why her advocate work was so worthwhile. Her initial motivation for appearing on behalf of Folds of Honor came from a sense of knowing this horrible feeling once before when she lost her father as a very young girl. She thought about the possibility of losing a loved one again and immediately considered everyone she connected with in the Folds of Honor community.
Thankfully, Tyler was finally able to call Liz. He survived the bombing, but thirteen other military families were not so lucky. They paid the ultimate sacrifice with their service. Liz and Colleen know that loss all too well. Today they continue to express their gratitude for the Folds of Honor Foundation by inspiring others with their story.
Liz O'Hare's graduation.
Liz O'Hare's graduation.
When Liz graduated from Mount St. Mary’s, she compiled a scrapbook of her experience. She sent that very personal autobiography to the Foundation. It was her way of saying thank you for everything they helped her achieve in college. That level of perspective is special. We don’t always experience it in today’s society. I’m extremely grateful for meeting Colleen and Liz O’Hare. In many ways, their willingness to create awareness matters as much as Tyler and Ray’s service.
Support is what the Folds of Honor Foundation and PGA HOPE are all about. We all may never serve, but we all can be brave enough to support. Follow Colleen and Liz’s example. Look for a Patriot Golf Days opportunity this Memorial Day weekend and play, volunteer or just donate. The difference we all can make is more than measurable.