It’s not every day that a commencement address will be delivered by someone who is already gone, but that’s what will happen Sunday, May 23 as Patrick Quinn, the late ALS Ice Bucket Challenge co-founder and proud Iona College Gael (Class of 2006), delivers a posthumous keynote address during Iona’s 77th annual commencement ceremony.
The inspirational message is a compilation of Quinn’s speeches as he campaigned to raise funds for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. An Iona rugby player, Quinn was diagnosed with ALS in 2013. He would go on to help raise more than $220 million for medical research through the Ice Bucket Challenge, never giving up on his fight to find a cure for the debilitating disease. He passed away in November 2020 at the age of 37 after a heroic, seven-year battle.
“Pat Quinn embodied the spirit of Iona College,” said Iona president Seamus Carey. “With perseverance and faith, he fought the good fight and proved to the world that one individual can make a profound difference. As we celebrate the remarkable Class of 2021 and all of their many accomplishments, we do so knowing that they will carry forth the Iona legacy of service, opportunity and the transformative power of education. May God continue to bless the path ahead of them.”
Iona will also host an honors convocation at 12:30 p.m. and a Baccalaureate Mass at 4 p.m. on Friday, May 21, as well as two in-person recognition ceremonies at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. May 22. The May 22 ceremonies will each include a processional of roughly 300 graduates, as well as performances by the Iona College Pipe Band and remarks by Carey and board of trustees chair Patrick Dunican Jr., ’88, among others. All the events of commencement weekend will be livestreamed at https://www.iona.edu/commencement/commencement-ceremonies.
– Georgette Gouveia