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One of the most in-demand motivational speakers in the nation today will be coming to the Farmington Centene Center at 6 p.m. Sept. 10, where he will bring his inspirational story of survival and success to a southeast Missouri audience.

The event, sponsored by the Farmington Regional Chamber of Commerce, features John O'Leary who at the age of 9 was burned on 100 percent of his body and given less than 1 percent chance to live.

Expected to die, the speaker and best-selling author now teaches others how to truly live. His amazing journey of survival illustrates the incredible power of the human spirit.

O'Leary has shared his message with more than half-a-million people in 48 states, 11 countries and at 1,600 events for clients that have included LEGO, Southwest Airlines, Microsoft, Pepsi and the St. Louis Cardinals, among others.

In 2016, O'Leary's number one national bestselling book, "On Fire," was published and his number 18 iTunes business podcast, "Live Inspired" launched. The book has since sold more than 120,000 copies and been translated into 12 languages. The podcast has been downloaded more than 650,000 times.

"We want the whole community to know about John O'Leary coming," said Farmington Regional Chamber Co-Director Candy Hente. "We're really excited that he's coming because he's a best-selling author and world-class motivational speaker. The fact that we're able to bring him to Farmington is tremendous.

"It's really quite an honor for us to host him. He has spoken for many of the Fortune 500 companies — huge companies all over the world — telling his story and inspiring them to live better and live a life that is on fire. By that, John means a life that's inspiring and always giving back to others. It's really interesting reading his book — and I can't wait to meet him in person — because he definitely takes note of everyone in the room and not just those on the front row or those that are the 'celebrated ones.' He talks in his book about the nurse that took care of him and some of the people that took the time of their day — including American sportscaster Jack Buck who announced St. Louis Cardinals Major League Baseball games for many years."

Asked how the chamber was able to bring O'Leary to the Parkland, Hente said, "Someone from St. Louis asked me that just the other day. They were in here and saw the poster and said, 'How did you get him here?' Well, if he didn't live in St. Louis we probably couldn't bring him here, but because he's so close, it's a little bit more affordable for us. And fortunately, we have some tremendous sponsors. First State Community Bank has been the top sponsor for this event and several of the people in administration — at the executive level — have heard him speak and are very excited that he's coming to our community.

"I started out with about four of us — businessmen I knew were fans of John O'Leary — and we just sat down and said, 'Can we do this? What do we need to do this? What can we do?' They've been helping to guide that committee along the way and helping solicit sponsorships for that, as well as encouraging people to buy tickets. They've put money in the game to help bring him here."

Hente noted that O'Leary will also be speaking to students at Farmington High School during his visit.

"He's going to be doing a presentation that addressing some of the Pillars of Character from The Character Council," she said. "That will be a school-wide assembly at the new field house. Then he'll be basically walking across the street to the Centene Center to make his community presentation."

Hente explained that one of the main reasons the chamber wanted to bring O'Leary to Farmington is because he's primarily a business speaker.

"I believe your personal life is the foundation of your business life and I believe he does too," she said. "Your character and who you are in your personal life is a great foundation for business and that's what he addresses in his book. How you live and how you treat people has everything to do with how you do in business."

Hente stressed that, although the O'Leary event is taking place in Farmington, this is a regional event open to anyone who wants to attend.

"There's people coming from the bootheel," she said. "There's people from St. Louis coming to Farmington to hear him speak. It will definitely be worth the drive."

Tickets are $15 per person. A $50 VIP ticket is also available that offers a personal visit with O'Leary. All tickets are available at the Farmington Regional Chamber of Commerce website at www.FarmingtonRegionalChamber.com and click on the event to buy tickets with a credit card. The tickets will then be mailed to the purchaser. Hente recommends that anyone interested in attending the program should purchase them as soon as possible before they are sold out.

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Kevin R. Jenkins is the managing editor of the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-756-8927 or kjenkins@farmingtonpressonline.com

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