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Hockey Community Carries on Legacy of Shannon O'Hara

Updated: 02/01/2014 2:10 AM
Created: 01/31/2014 10:42 PM KAALtv.com
By: Jenna Lohse

(ABC 6 News) -- Teams from around the state are in Rochester to compete in a girls youth hockey tournament this weekend.  A tournament that's been renamed in memory of Shannon O'Hara, who lost her battle with cancer at just 13 years old. Now, Shannon’s love for the game lives on.

At the stands at Graham Area sit number one fans of each hockey player on the ice. Aligning the glass, you'd think this mom had a daughter on the starting lineup. But for Jen O'Hara, she's rooting for the memory of her daughter Shannon to live on.

"Shannon loved a lot of things, she loved school, she loved soccer, she love her friends, but she really loved hockey,” said Shannon’s mom, Jen O’Hara.

Shannon O'Hara was just 12-years-old when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. "She skated for the last time here at Graham Area on Dec. 4th of 2012 and passed away January 6th,” said O’Hara.

She skating up until the absolute end, "This was her element, this place was her favorite place on earth,” said O’Hara.

Now, the Rochester Youth Hockey Association renamed all the girls tournaments in her honor. The Shannon Cup is now home to 300 girls skating in her memory.

"It feels like yesterday that everything happened, but we're playing in her honor,” said teammate, Sam Jones.

"We still know she's here, and we just try our hardest and win for her,” said teammate, Olivia Pankow.

Both Olivia and Sam play on the same team Shannon was once a part of. "We call her Shannon the Cannon, so yeah, we named the team the Cannons after her,” said Jones.

"She was always the positive one, she psyched everyone up for the game, and she was always so happy, and it really isn't the same without her,” said Pankow.

Although the Cannons are now too old to play in this weekend’s tournament. The 12B Rochester Rebels on the ice Friday is the very age group Shannon last played with. The team sporting Shannon’s favorite color, making her still a big part of this hockey community.

"They feel her presence, they're out here skating for Shannon and that feels pretty good to us,” said O’Hara.

All the money raised at the Shannon Cup will go towards the Shannon O'Hara foundation. Just this week, two scholarships were given to local seniors who were part of the Rochester Youth Hockey Association. Her mom has also written a book about Shannon’s battle called "Determined to Matter."

You can find more about the Shannon O’Hara Foundation on their website at http://www.shannonoharafoundation.org.



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