By: Kimberly Redmond
As a tribute to their former classmate who died last fall following a battle with ALS, a group of Morristown High School graduates have launched an effort to create a scholarship in his name.
After being diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) in 2013, Patrick “Pat” Donaghy, Jr. fought for five years. ALS, also known as Lou Gerhig’s disease, slowly takes away muscular function, making everyday activities difficult and eventually impossible.
Patrick worked for nearly 16 years as a licensed plumber/electrician before his diagnosis and was active in his community, serving on several municipal boards and even making a run for Dover City Council. He was also involved in the AA and NA active recovery communities, as well as pursued his passion for being a stand-up comic, according to his obituary.
In the years to come, the community rallied around Patrick, a longtime Morris County resident, and his wife, Tikky, in support of the couple, including fundraisers to help them make their home and car handicap accessible.
Friends are once again coming together, this time to pay tribute to Patrick, who died in November 2018 at age 49.
A GoFundMe campaign, coordinated by members of the class of 1987, aims to raise money to create a scholarship for a Morristown High School student with medical needs to help offset some of the costs of college.
On the fundraiser page, alumni wrote that while “some of us referred to him as a classmate, most of us called him a friend.”
“Pat cared about everyone,” they added.
Referring to Pat as their hero, they recalled how hard he fought to overcome the disease and how he never dwelled on its devastating effects.
“He turned around and encouraged us instead,” they wrote. “He married the love of his life, Tikky…[and] he would proudly tell people ‘She married me, despite my diagnosis” and would remain by his side throughout the victories and challenges.
“Emulating the cliche ‘To know Pat was to love Pat,’ still falls short of his kind heart and warm nature. Not many can walk and leave this Earth where most, if not all, can say they loved them. Pat was rare, but he was never puffed up and one who was charismatic, empathetic, responsive, engaging and approachable. His level of love and compassion for those around him, forced us to check our own moral compasses, as he was True North,” they wrote.
The remainder of the funds raised will go to Patrick’s widow, Tikky.
Proceeds were presented to Patrick’s family at a Celebration of Life event that took place in March.
“When they learned that a scholarship would be awarded to a MHS student who has medical/health challenges themselves or an immediate family member where financial assistance would help them attend college, they were brought to tears,” organizers wrote.
As of mid-March, $3,350 has been raised towards the campaign’s $5,000 goal. The fundraiser can be found by logging onto www.gofundme.com/PatDonaghy.