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The Science Behind Jack Buck’s Impact on My Life

John and Jack Buck Featured Image

John and Jack BuckLove and Friendship Impact Health

“A friend is someone who helps you up when you’re down, and if they can’t, they lay down beside you and listen.” – Winnie the Pooh [Tweet this] | [Share on Facebook]

I think often of the impact Jack Buck had on my recovery from the fire.

But it wasn’t until recently that I started to understand the science behind his impact.

Dr. Kelli Harding joined me on the Live Inspired Podcast to share her groundbreaking research that illustrates how love, friendship, environment and a sense of purpose can have even greater impact on our health than the care we receive from doctors.

And she shares about her new book The Rabbit Effect, which makes a compelling case for treating others with kindness. Check out this fun, warm and life-changing conversation here!

The following excerpt from my #1 national bestselling book ON FIRE: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life shares the story of how Jack Buck helped me survive and thrive.

* * * * *

Jack Buck changed my life.

He entered into it just a few days after I was burned.

The odds of surviving remained overwhelmingly slight. Because of the high likelihood of infection, the only individuals allowed into my room were essential staff members and my parents. At the time there was a strict rule: absolutely no visitors.

That changed when Jack Buck walked into the burn center looking for a little boy who had been burned the previous weekend. The staff consulted with my parents and reminded them that a visitor in my room might introduce an infection. But a visit from a Hall of Fame announcer that their little boy idolized, hanging on each word during the baseball season, would also unquestionably introduce hope. The choice was made to allow him in.

He’d never met me or my family. He’d simply been told that a little boy in the community had been injured, faced long odds, and needed some encouragement. That was enough for Jack.

He scrubbed up, gowned up, walked into my room and into my life.

He was unprepared for the beeping, the warning lights, the respirator’s loud gurgling noises, the little boy stretched out on a bed wrapped literally head to toe with bandages. I later learned his first visit was so short because he became so emotional, he could no longer speak. After telling me to keep fighting, he left the room, ripped off the scrubs and broke down weeping in the hallway.

A nurse came over to comfort him. After all, they didn’t get celebrities in the burn center every day. And they certainly couldn’t have the biggest celebrity in St. Louis break down on the floor!

She asked if he was okay.

Jack replied he wasn’t sure. He asked if the little boy was going to make it.

The nurse shook her head no and explained the extent of my injuries. She then shared, “Mr. Buck, I am sorry, there just isn’t a chance. It’s just his time.”

He left the burn center with this information.

Jack had done his good deed. He had visited a dying kid in the hospital. He owed me nothing.

He had done enough.

He had learned that some climbs are just too steep; this little boy would not survive this one. There was not a chance.

Not a chance.

And in spite of all the reasons to give up hope and move on with his life, the following day Jack came back.

An unlikely friendship would play out during my stay in the hospital. Jack made frequent visits; talked about me on broadcasts; and sent professional baseball, football, and hockey players to my room once visitors were allowed. Jack did everything in his power to encourage me to keep battling, to fight for John O’Leary Day at the ballpark.

In my scariest, bleakest days, one man’s voice shone light into my darkness. One visit gave me a promise to cling to. One voice echoed hope.

* * * * *

Today is your day. Live Inspired.

3 replies on “The Science Behind Jack Buck’s Impact on My Life”

John it is great to see you and your miraculous recovery. I give glory to god for you and the bright future and impact that you have ahead of you. I do not think you would remember me but I was the cardinals press box guard and host for mr buck. I remember the first time you came up to the press box and the many visits that you and your family made there. As you progressed in your injuries I remember well that you reminded me as just another playful boy. We would play tag and you would bring a ball and we played catch when you. Visited. I have often thought of you and I have prayed for you. You are truly an inspiration to all who have encountered you. God bless


I had the pleasure of hearing your story at the Vistage meeting last Tuesday. It was an incredible story and sometimes we don’t understand God’s plan of why we attend certain things or why you even were a guest speaker. I have a small company (89) employees and today one of my salesman’s sister was involved in a horrible accident much similar to your experience. She was going to the store to fill up a gas can and placed the gas can in the back seat of her car and a fire broke out burning her over 100% of her body. As i listened to the details of this horrific tragedy I had hope through your inspiration and comforting words for my employee because of your story. I purchased your book at the event and was able to give it to him for inspiration. Thank you for inspiration and willingness to tell your story to help others.

James, thank you for taking the time to share and even more, for taking the time to care and lift up your employee. I’m sorry to hear of this news, I’d love to send a signed copy to your employee’s sister – can you email her name and address to info@johnolearyinspires.com? Thanks for all you do — JO

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