A Mother’s Unconditional Love

Ron Mizutani
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Wednesday - May 27, 2009
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Dolan brothers Patrick and Ryan with their mother Anne

I’m a mama’s boy and am not ashamed to say it. It’s easy to do when you have the best mom in the world.

Moms are special. Don’t get me wrong, as a father of three, I know how critical “our” role is in our children’s lives, providing guidance, support and discipline. But there’s something special about a mom.

Just ask Patrick and Ryan Dolan.

The Dolan brothers burst onto the local paddling scene several years ago and are now chasing down their Olympic dreams with their eyes set on the London Olympics in 2012. While they compete against international kayakers abroad, their mother Anne is working hard back home making sure her sons can realize their dreams.

“It’s exhausting but so rewarding,” says Anne Dolan-Van Oss. “This is all part of being a mom. You do all you can so your children can achieve their dreams.”

To compete at the highest level against the elite of Olympic kayaking, the Dolan brothers (who are 18 months apart in age) have had to travel and train far from home. Recently, the U.S. National Team announced it no longer had the funding to support athletes in any of this year’s international competitions. Everyone needed to be 100 percent self-funded, and prepayment of the estimated $5,000 cost of the trips was required.


For Dolan-Van Oss, multiply everything by two.

“I don’t think the boys wanted to give me a nervous breakdown,” chuckles the busy mom. “But once we got the message, we started to fundraise. I’ve been a teacher for 30 years, and I asked everyone I knew to help.”

Dolan-Van Oss received a huge boost from the paddling community. World-class paddler Kai Bartlett even donated a one-man canoe for their fundraising efforts. Dolan-Van Oss was committed to her cause, attending nearly every paddling event on Oahu, humbly asking friends and even strangers for help. It was an amazing act of sacrifice, support and unconditional love.

“Thanks to the generosity of so many people, we successfully raised almost $12,000, which will cover their travel costs for this year,” says an excited Dolan-Van Oss. “Almost all of the teachers at Maryknoll School (where Patrick and Ryan attended) donated something. It was more than we could ever dream of raising.”

So far, 19-year-old Ryan and 21-year-old Patrick have had success with a solid showing in the Czech Republic. The brothers are currently in Poland with more travel ahead.

The World Cup Tour will end June 7 in Hungary. The brothers will return home for a short stay after the World Cup. Dolan-Van Oss hasn’t seen them since January.

“It’s been very taxing, quite honestly,” says the mother of five children. “I was a single mom for 12 years, but thankfully my husband Hank helped me pick up the tab several years ago. I’m grateful for him, too,”


Together, she and Hank have seven children.

Once her sons leave, fundraising efforts will resume as the brothers prepare for the World Championships in Canada.

“We still have to cover the costs for Canada, food and other expenses,” she says. “We have much faith in God and I believe you get back what you give.”

Anne Dolan-Van Oss has certainly given her time and effort, and not because she has to, but because “it’s what moms do.”

“I’ve always told my children ‘go after your dreams, but be a good person first,’” she says. “I remind my sons to represent Hawaii and do your best. I’m confident in my boys, but if they don’t make it (on the U.S. Olympic team) this has been a wonderful experience for all of us.”

Mom, you’re still the best, but Ryan and Patrick Dolan’s mother is right there with you.

For more information on the Dolan brothers and their Olympic dreams, visit their website at www.dolanbros.com.

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