At just 17 years old, Kevin O’Brien joined the U.S. Air Force to work as an avionics technician.
“I would do all of the electric stuff on the fighter jets,” Kevin explained of his role.
The young airman had a promising career, but at 23, his world turned upside down.
“One night he collapsed, and they had taken him to the hospital and that’s when we found out he had the brain tumor,” recalled his mom Betty O’Brien.
Four days later Kevin underwent major brain surgery to remove the cancerous mass.
“Essentially he basically died four times during the surgery,” Betty said.
But Kevin pushed through and was transferred to Boston for further treatment. However, living in Enfield made it difficult for Betty to be by his side, at a time when he needed her most.
“I started to panic and wonder, ‘What am I going to do?’” Betty recalled.
That’s when she learned about Fisher House of Boston, which provides hotel rooms for families of veterans receiving medical treatment.
“We place families in hotels following the same model of the Fisher House,” explained Jen DeLuca, executive director of Fisher House of Boston. “It’s a five star and you are walking distance to your loved one.”
Fisher House of Boston was one of the beneficiaries of this year’s Vets Rock event at Mohegan Sun.
“We run solely on donations,” DeLuca said. “We receive no government funding and it’s just through our communities and organizations and events like Vets Rock that enable us to be able to continue to take care of our greatest national treasures.”
Thanks to Fisher House, Betty was able to stay in Boston at no cost for the majority of his 102 days there.
“She was there from very early in the morning to very late at night; basically, from when I woke up and when I went to sleep,” Kevin said.
“I know that without the ability to stay with my son the outcome would have been so different,” Betty said of her son.
Doctors weren’t sure whether he’d walk, talk or see again, but Kevin has beaten the odds and has a bright future ahead.
“Kevin has a tremendous spirit,” Betty said. “He celebrates every day that he can do things. He never ever gives up.”
Vets Rock raised $50,000 for Fisher House of Boston. Since the organization’s hotel program was created four years ago, it’s offered 5,600 nights of lodging to military families and saved them over $1 million.
To learn more about Vets Rock, visit MoheganSun.com.