Some of the numbers are obvious…50th anniversary of the University of Notre Dame’s Class of 1966 was celebrated June 2-5 on one of the most beautiful places in the world to come home to…Notre Dame du Lac!
And come they did…many of us for our annual pilgrimage, but some for the first time in 50 years. Those of us who return each year are always amazed by the growth; those who came for the first time in 50 years were obviously stunned. Many of us have watched each other grow old and we’ve absorbed the changes slowly and respected them. But there were a few times over the weekend when I shook someone’s offered hand and stammered “Is that really you, Ray?”
And come they did…at our 45th reunion there were but a merry group of 124; but for the 50th there were almost 500 attendees, including 315 loyal sons of Notre Dame!
Our Masters of Ceremonies for the entire weekend were the Class of ’66 Dynamic Duos: President Russell T. “Cappy” Gagnon and Mr. Secretary Tom “Sully” Sullivan. Where would be without these two gentle men. If only someone would get Sully some better jokes. These guys are our class and they deserve all of our thanks…and prayers. Job well done throughout the weekend.
Our special guest speakers for Friday’s dinner covered the world of Notre Dame with Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick batting first and scoring numerous points throughout the night, while Scott Malpass batted clean-up, which ND’s investment portfolio has done under his brilliant tutelage.
Saturday was the Big Day. Bet you never knew that you weren’t a member of the 50-Year Club (which allows you to sleep legally in the new Morris Inn) until you were inducted at the noon luncheon in the Purcell Arena. It was like graduation all over with the moderator calling each table, handing in the correct spelling of your name to the announcer, receiving your diploma (yes, we all got a diplomas) and having your hand shook while your picture was taken with President Father Jenkins.
And come they did (in a big way)… drum roll, please, Mr. Basche…after the induction Sully presented Fr. Jenkins with the class check of…Basche wake up…$22,180,485
the largest class donation EVER!
This was followed by a second check presentation of...$138,308
for the “Class of 1966 Pete Duranko Fund for Student-Athlete Safety.” This class-sponsored fund will support the implementation of a pioneering concussion-management program across all 26 of the University’s varsity sports. This innovative software program will enable coaches, trainers and team physicians to better understand the causes, incidence and severity of concussions; to monitor the paths the injuries take; and to provide affected athletes with the most appropriate medical care. Importantly, the program will generate data on which concussion-prevention policies and protocols can be based.
As you think about your charitable contributions in the future, please consider a gift to this good cause. Every donation to the Duranko Fund, no matter the size, will affect the lives of student-athletes at Notre Dame for many years to come.
The capper (‘scuse the intended pun) of the weekend was Saturday evening’s all-class mass followed by our class dinner in the Purcell Arena featuring a great speech by Coach Todd Lyght and a surprise podium visit by the U.S. Ambassador to Italy, our own John Phillips.
I’m sure that there were many more great experiences and memories created by the reunion weekend. My own take was that it was better than the day we graduated as we had so many more memories to share. One of the special features of our class web site is that you can share your own memories below, so let us hear your thoughts about the reunion.
Until the next reunion,
Cappy, Tom & Jack
For photos of the 50th & 45th Reunions go to the Reunion Photos section on the left-hand side of the Home Page and click on the pictures. Please send more photos and I'll include them in the section.