The Real Rybak: The WCCO broadcast just after Mayor R.T. Rybak's tragic news [VIDEO]
For this week's cover story, we spent several weeks following Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak around, documenting his day-to-day life to mark his 10th year in office.
In the course of the reporting, we learned that his 13-year-old niece Shannon O'Hara was battling brain cancer. Rybak kept a hectic schedule of city meetings, press conferences, and even a jaunt to the Iowa caucus, but Shannon's condition seemed to be always in the background.
On the final day of reporting, Rybak received tragic news.
The O'Haras found out about Shannon's inoperable brainstem glioma tumor just nine months ago. In November, Shannon was still playing hockey and going to school. But by Christmastime, her condition had worsened dramatically.
Star Tribune Shannon O'Hara from her obit in the Star Tribune.
On January 6, Shannon passed away at home with her family.
City Pages was with Rybak when he received the news from his wife. The moment appears in the piece just as Rybak is about to do an interview with WCCO's Pat Kessler about his proposal for the Viking stadium:
"My niece just died," [Rybak] says, ashen.
There's a stunned silence. What does he want to do? Cancel the photo? Cancel the lunch? Cancel the meeting with Dayton's office? What should Stiles tell WCCO?
"I'm trying to figure that out," Rybak says, staring blankly at the floor.
A moment passes.
"No," Rybak says, moving toward the parking lot, where Kessler waits with his camera crew. "Let's do the lunch."
In the WCCO interview, there's no indication that Rybak had just received devastating news. Here's the broadcast:
Rybak and the O'Hara family were on the news as well, eight months earlier, to talk about Shannon's condition:
Shannon's parents also kept a popular blog documenting their experience with their daughter's illness called, simply, "Rochester MN O'Hara Family Blog."
COVER STORY: The Real Rybak: Up close and personal with mayor of Minneapolis