Olympian Kerri Walsh meets Olentangy Liberty student-athlete who fought leukemia

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A local athlete has battled on and off the field of play for the past few years. She earned a field hockey scholarship to play for The Ohio State University while fighting cancer.

On Friday, Olentangy Liberty senior Mara Hunter got the surprise of a lifetime.

Hunter plays on the field hockey team, but that wasn’t always the case. A year ago, she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and missed playing her junior year.

“I never even thought I would be able to play again,” she said.

After months of chemotherapy, she is in remission and back with the team.

NBC4 caught up with Mara at a photo shoot for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society–for a special surprise.

Three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings stopped by. It was all part of a new program called Random Acts of Light.

The program is geared toward hope, something Walsh says is important.

“Don’t be afraid to fail, don’t be afraid to get frustrated, work through it and you’re going to get where you want to go,” she said.

Mara showed Jennings some of her moves but says it was nice to be able to bond with a professional athlete.

“When I got sick I just knew I had to win and I had to beat this,” she said. “It’s just nice to know that somebody else understands that without actually going through it.”

Jennings says she hopes to inspire other patients who are stricken with this cancer.

“This is what you are here for,” Jennings said. “You are here to beat this, to triumph, to share your story and to be that light.”

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