John Dunleavy is being honored with an Irish Heroes of New England award in recognition of his exemplary work as a member the Self-Advocate Advisory Council for Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress (MDSC).
At the 30th Annual MDSC Conference which took place this year, Dunleavy, who was the keynote speaker, addressed over 600 delegates which included people with Down Syndrome, their family members, health care professionals and educators from across New England. At the address, the 23-year-old told attendees “You can achieve anything, when you have Down syndrome."
Recalling the event, Dunleavy says "When I was given such an amazing privilege [to speak], I was very happy because I had the power to inspire other people with Down syndrome to follow their heart and achieve their dreams."
As part of his work with organization, the Winchester native takes part in various MDSC events throughout the Massachussetts. This year, he assisted at the first call booth the MDSC hosted during their annual Buddy walk where he spoke to parents and young children who also have Down syndrome.
Dunleavy explains the importance of his work,” In a way, I am a role model for some of the other members of this organization.”
The inspirational Irish American is not only recognized for his advocacy efforts for the Down syndrome community but for his exceptional professional and sporting achievements.
For the last few years, John, is living every ice-hockey fans dream by working full time with the Boston Bruins at TD Northgate Garden.
A huge sports fan himself, Dunleavy simply puts it, “I absolutely love my job.”
Of course, not only is the much loved member of the Bruins front office team heavily involved with ensuring the stadium is ready for game night but Dunleavy has become some what of a honorary coach. It all started in November 2013, when Bruins Coach Claude Julien asked John to give the team a pre-game pep talk. After John’s speech, the ice-hockey team went on to an overtime victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Since then, Dunleavy has been called upon on various occasions to motivate the sportsmen before a game.
Dunleavy says “I usually tell them to focus, bring the Stanley Cup back to Boston.”
And even though, he may be talking to these famous athletes, the Winchester man does not hold back “I say to them that they need to work/play the hardest they can, for their fans!”
Of course, John knows all about dedication.
The sports enthusiast has multiple Gold medals at home thanks to his winning performances with the Special Olympics Swimming team. He also has second degree Black Belt in karate and is a champion special needs basketball player.
“Every time that I win a medal, I feel amazing and my favorite thing to do afterwards is to celebrate my win with my family.”
Speaking about being honored with this award, Dunleavy said “Being one of the honorees for such an amazing award feels completely awesome. After I found out, I felt both very privileged and humbled to be receiving this award.”
He added “My story and this honor will hopefully inspire others to never give up and also to help make a difference.”