4th Georgetown University Conference on Employment of People with Disabilities

This morning I was excited to co-host the 4th Georgetown University Conference on Employment of People with Disabilities at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC with two other Georgetown alumni, friends and mentors, John D. Kemp (’71) and Mike Marshall (’95, ’05). This year’s conference was themed "Wounded Warriors - Employing Vets with Disabilities” and focused on the importance of hiring individuals with disabilities and more specifically, what can be done to improve the hiring and retention of the Veterans with disabilities returning to civilian life. 

John, Mike and I were honored to present the Georgetown University Human Spirit Award to two female members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA). Rep. McMorris Rogers, the fourth highest ranking Republican in the House, was present to accept the award and share some personal insight about her commitment to helping people with disabilities. 

We were honored that Tom Donohue, President & CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, wanted to speak about the need for the United States to take the lead on the passage of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and discuss the unique skill-sets that businesses would acquire if they hired and retained more individuals with disabilities.

The conference was highlighted by two fascinating panels. Frances West, Chief Accessibility Officer at IBM, moderated the first panel, which examined the need for accessible assistive technology, and had panelists from Barclays Capital, Rutgers University and Accessibility Partners LLC. The second panel, moderated by Justin Ford with the Truman National Security Project and General Manager of Dog Tag Bakery, focused on the role of the recent federal contracting regulations promulgated by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. Panelists included the Deputy Assistant Secretary from the U.S. Department of Labor, a representative from Northrop Grumman the Vice President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce & Executive Director, Hiring Our Heroes.

Thank you to Georgetown University, our award recipients, sponsors, expert panelists and everyone that attended for making this conference as successful as it was! 

Walking down the Green Carpet

Delbarton's 75th Anniversary “Green-tie" Gala finally arrived. While there were a number of reasons why I traveled to NYC this weekend, attending this Gala was without a doubt the main attraction. My commitment to and love for Delbarton is no secret and so it was very important to me to attend this great celebration. Almost 450 guests dressed up at Gustavino’s under Manhattan's Queensboro Bridge to dance the night away and the group included fellow alumni, former teachers and coaches, monks from St. Mary's Abbey and other “Friends of Delbarton". I love getting dressed up and making the night a Green-tie party instead of a Black-tie party was quite appropriate as the Green Wave is our mascot. 

Everyone in attendance walked the Green Carpet, tasted two signature drinks, the Old Main and the Green Wave, created by alumni mixologist Harold 'H' Ehrmann '87 and tested their luck in a twenty-two item silent auction, which included a painting of Old Main by American Impressionist John Traynor '79, a Delbarton-branded Tag Heuer watch, a Sun Valley home and Palm desert condo, jewelry and more. Guests had the opportunity to reflect on Delbarton's first 75 years, but also look towards the future with the announcement of a significant capital campaign that will be launching to help enhance our campus's main building, Trinity Hall, and grow our endowment to increase our ability to provide financial aid.

I had the most amazing night with my friend, Ali Armstrong, who was truly the best date and dance partner I could have asked. Ali and I appreciated my classmate Alex Hewit and his family letting us sit with them for dinner. The Skyline Drive Orchestra lived up to expectations and the young alumni at the party impressed everyone with their dance moves on the dance floor. 

Congratulations Delbarton on your first 75 years and I am so excited to see where you will be 75 years from now!

Lunch with Michael J. Fox and Hoyas Reunion

Day two in New York City did not start out as I hoped, but it only got better as the day progressed. Unfortunately, I was really battling a bad cold, likely the result of all of the fluctuating temperatures we have seen this winter and was not feeling myself at all early that day.

Without question one of the true highlights of my trip to New York City was having lunch with Michael J. Fox, someone who has become a great friend and a true mentor to me. After first meeting Michael the summer after my accident, our friendship has developed and I appreciate all of the advice and constant positive encouragement he provides me. During this particular lunch, Michael and I talked about a variety of topics, including some big ideas that I have been thinking about and wanted Michael’s opinions. Thankfully, I think he reacted very favorably and encouraged me to push forward and it's my goal to proceed with a couple of ideas in the coming weeks and months. This hour and a half lunch with Michael was extremely special and as is every minute that I get to spend with this incredibly genuine and positive and inspiring man. 

Later that night, I had a great dinner with my friend Todd at a very fun Mexican restaurant in the West Village named Horchata. Following dinner, we met a great group of Hoyas at Galway Hooker for a few drinks and some time to catch up. Thank you to Maureen, Lauren, Cheryl, Miles, Julia, Mike, Brian, Katrina and Michael for coming out to meet me and I loved seeing you.

Live from the NASDAQ Market Site- this is Fast Money

After arriving in New York City from Washington, DC via Amtrak train, my mom drove my caregiver and I to my sister’s apartment to drop our bags off before heading to Time Square. There my mom and I met my sister at the NASDAQ Market Site where we watched a live taping of CNBCs Fast Money which airs at 5 PM daily. Fast Money is a show that my dad and I watch regularly as we are both very interested in the financial markets and follow them closely. My good friend and fellow Georgetown alumni, Guy Adami, is one of the regular market commentators/traders on the show and invited us to the taping at their new set. I have seen the show taped a few times in the past, but this was the first time for my mom and sister. On this particular show, Guy was joined on the trading desk by Steve Grasso, Dan Nathan, Karen Finerman and the show's host Melissa Lee. 

Thank you to Guy and the rest of the Fast Money team for showing us a great time. As you can see in the picture, I fit nicely behind the trading desk and so if all else fails it with my current job, maybe I have a future as a CNBC host. 

Later that night, my mom, sister and I enjoyed a great meal at The Greenwich Project, a really cute and delicious restaurant in the West Village. If anyone lives or is visiting that area, I highly recommend the restaurant!

First trip to the Kennedy Center....Finally!

Today, I crossed something off my “DC Bucket List" that has been sitting there since I first moved to DC nine years ago….. I attended a performance at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

After years of talking about this and monitoring the performance website of the Kennedy Center, I bought tickets in November for my mom and I to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. We saw this show on Broadway many years ago and have always had it’s music readily available because it was one of my grandfather's most favorite Broadway shows. Mom and I enjoyed every minute of the show and had great seats- just a few boxes away from the box reserved for the President of United States (which was empty during this performance). 

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is on a national tour and is being performed at the Kennedy Center for approximately five weeks. The two lead performers are American Idol finalists, Diana DeGarmo and Ace Young, who are coincidentally married to each other now. 

Now that I have been to one show, I know I will definitely be a more frequent visitor. If you ever want to go see a show with me at the Kennedy Center, just let me know!

My first Christmas in DC

Christmas 2014 was my first Christmas spent in Washington, DC- with a majority of past Christmases spent up north in New Jersey or down south in Florida. This year, a number of factors steered us towards spending the holiday in DC, namely that we had been away for Thanksgiving and that my caregiver is in the midst of a long trip back home to the Philippines. While my caregiver has been away, I have been very lucky that my parents have been willing and able to put their lives on hold and move to DC to help take care of me.

The week of Christmas was unusually warm in DC with temperatures ranging from 45° - 60°, which allowed me to spend a little time outside with my mom and sister who were in town for the holiday. The three of us planned to enjoy Christmas Eve dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Founding Farmers, but unfortunately Ellie’s train ride from NYC was delayed  by almost four hours (busted engine). Thankfully, she made it to the restaurant in time for dessert. You are always guaranteed a great meal at Founding Farmers and I really love all of its affiliated restaurants too. 

We were excited that Santa Claus found us in DC and surprised us with some great gifts. It was definitely a smaller Christmas, but over the last few years we have tried to focus on things that we need and not that we want. We attended Christmas Mass at Holy Trinity Church, right outside the gates of Georgetown University and really enjoyed the service there Which featured a lot of Christmas songs!). That evening, my mom, sister and I drove out to McLean, VA to our great friends the Motley's house and had Christmas dinner with mutual friends, the Walkers and Carolls.

While all four families are close friends, this was one of the first times in many, many years that we have been together. It was a blast for everyone to be under one roof- there was plenty of food and cocktails, but there were also plenty of jokes and catchup conversations being had which made the night very memorable.

The day after Christmas, my mom and I got one more present- when Ellie decided to change her train back to NYC at the last minute and stay for one extra night with us. We loved the fact that she was able to stay with us one more night. 

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!

Two speaking engagements

Over the last few days, I had two opportunities to speak to different groups of Georgetown students and had fun doing both. On November 2, I spoke on a panel of five alumni, to students with disabilities about the transition into the working world, advice on how to discover career opportunities and the importance of being a strong advocate for the reasonable accommodations that they require to maximize their success. The event was organized by the Georgetown Academic Resource Center and was hosted in the Healey Family Student Center.

Earlier today, I joined Professor Joan Riley's Health Promotion and Disease Prevention class within Georgetown's School of Nursing and Health Studies for a conversation with students. For over an hour, I shared my story with approximately 60 students and engaged in very interactive dialogue that I hope was both informative and inspiring. While we tried to focus on health promotion, there was no topic that was off-limits and I can honestly say that I was asked questions I had never been asked before. I had so much fun doing this and appreciated the students' interest, respect and maturity. 

Once again, I loved the opportunity to engage with and help Georgetown students.

Delbarton 10 Year Reunion and Hall of Honor Induction

It was a blast celebrating my 10 year reunion from Delbarton with almost 40 of my classmates. I loved seeing so many guys (brothers) back for this occasion and having the chance to catch up with everyone. The Homecoming festivities included the alumni soccer game, the varsity football game vs. Randolph that we won, food, cocktails and opportunity to see former teachers and coaches. Our class had a bit of a heavy heart on this day as one of our classmates unexpectedly passed away August and we started our day holding a remembrance ceremony in his memory. A few classmates, the school's Headmaster and previous Abbot of the Monastery all provided beautiful remarks and shared funny stories about Paul. Since our freshman year, our class has been through a lot of adversity and so I was not surprised in the least that we all rallied together this weekend to remember one of our own. In fact, it just made me so proud and further realize how special Delbarton is.

Immediately after Homecoming, I found myself very reflective about the significance of that day, my classmates and how much Delbarton means to me. It was so great to be back on campus, a place that I truly loved to be at, especially on Delbarton's 75th anniversary. For a class that had only 100 graduates, we are a very accomplished group and there was obvious growth and maturity since graduation. On this day, I saw our class was made up of doctors, Wall Street bankers, teachers and coaches at Delbarton, entrepreneurs, Navy SEALs, members of the Marine Corps, Federal government employees, NCAA athletic coaches, philanthropists, authors and most importantly, husbands and fathers. While each of us is our own individual piece of this class, collectively we are special. Every one of us is busy in our own lives and probably only see a handful of our classmates on a regular basis, it didn't feel weird or uncomfortable to see someone that you haven't seen for a number of years and give them a big hug.

The highlight of the weekend was undoubtedly my induction into the Delbarton Alumni Hall of Honor on Friday night. This honor is bestowed upon alumni who have distinguished themselves through service to the school or who have brought credit to Delbarton through distinguished achievements in their respective fields. To say that I was extremely honored, excited and emotional about my induction into the Hall would be a huge understatement. For someone who loves Delbarton as much as I do, it is impossible for me to truly characterize all of my feelings that night. I am so appreciative to the Alumni Association for making me the youngest person inducted into the Hall and for my classmates that attended induction ceremony that night to support me. In my acceptance speech, I focused on how much my classmates and I loved Delbarton and said, "if my life had its own Hall of Fame that Delbarton would be in it."


Healey Family Student Center Dedication

Last night, I had the honor and privilege of attending the Blessing Ceremony and Dedication Dinner for the Georgetown University Healey Family Student Center (HFSC), the 44,000 square-foot student center that opened in September. For almost 5 years, including my time as a student and young alumnus, I have been involved in the conceptual, design and fundraising phases of this project and attending last night's festivities made me so proud and was truly a surreal feeling. I remember the first conversations I ever had about this building with administrators and other student leaders and it was great to be with many of those individuals, as well as Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia and members of the University's Board of Directors. In 2010, I spearheaded the effort in front of the Student Activities Fee Endowment Commission to have over $2.1 million of student money to be the first gift towards this building and this commitment from the students was then leveraged by the University to fundraise over $20 million.

I always believed that this building would be a "game changer" for the student life experience at Georgetown and after seeing students utilize the building and feeling the energy, I know this is the case. The HFSC was described as the students' new "living room" and I'm so excited that this a reality for them to enjoy it. My involvement with the creation of the HFSC is one of my proudest accomplishments as a member of the Georgetown community!

2014 DC Women of Style Event

Britt McHenry

The 2014 DC Women of Style event at STK Restaurant hosted by DC Modern Luxury magazine was a chance to meet some new people and support the good work of others. Michael McCarthy and Peter Abrams continue to do excellent work at DC Modern Luxury magazine, Sanjay Dasani keeps growing The Tailored Man and Alison Beshai’s personal styling business becomes more successful with each passing day. Alison styled all of the women photographed for this DC Women of Style issue, which included ESPN reporter Britt McHenry, who was one of the nicest people to speak with (and very easy on the eyes :) )

Read DC Modern Luxury at www.modernluxury.com/dc

See the great work of The Tailored Man at www.tailoredman.com

Learn about Alison Beshai styling at www.alisonbeshai.com

Georgetown Women's Lacrosse Banquet

I had the privilege of attending the annual banquet for the Georgetown University women's lacrosse team to honor the most recent graduating class hosted at the Key Bridge Marriott Hotel. It was a night filled with laughter and tears as the current senior class roasted the most recent graduates with a poem they wrote, the recent graduates each delivering prepared remarks about their experiences at Georgetown, the coaches recounting the season and presenting team awards and the night being capped off with the season's highlight video. Congrats to Courtney, MJ, Meghan, Jody, Kelyn, Reilly, Barb, Hannah, and Maggie and it was a blast having you back in DC for the weekend!

When I started as a freshman at Georgetown, I never envisioned myself as someone who would become a big fan of the women's lacrosse program, but I am very happy to be one of the program's biggest supporters now. In 2010, some of my friends, who were the Captains of the team, asked me to share my story with the team and give a motivational talk in hopes of providing a much needed "spark" to turn around the season after starting 1-5. Since that day, I have continued to share my story and other thoughts with the team on a regular basis. Sometimes we all need a change in perspective and/or to hear a message delivered in a different way for it to be absorbed. I really enjoy my time supporting this team and the girls that are on it. I have learned that as good as they are players on the field, they are that much better people off it. It is amazing to think that some of my best friends have played for and are currently playing on the women's lacrosse team and if I was never asked to share my story in 2010, I may never had met any of these girls.

Prior to that evening's banquet, I participated in the Fall meeting of the Hoyas Unlimited Alumni Board of Directors on Georgetown University's campus. I am in the midst of my second year as an elected member of Hoyas Unlimited and enjoy the time I spend with other alumni to discuss the ways we can best support the Athletic Department, increase annual giving to Athletics and serve as ambassadors for all of Georgetown’s athletic teams.

NextStep Fitness DC

On September 18, I co-chaired and attended the 6th NextStep Help Make a Difference Benefit  to support fundraising efforts to open a NextStep facility in Washington, DC. As someone who could benefit from the opening of this facility, I was so appreciative and excited to see over 150 people at this event and make this the most successful DC Benefit- raising over $65,000.

NextStep Fitness, Inc. was founded by fellow Georgetown alumnus, Janne Kouri, and opened its first facility in Los Angeles in 2007 with the mission of providing "lifelong health and recovery for people living with paralysis and mobility impairments" through progressive, forward leaning equipment and therapies at a low cost to patients. I am lucky and proud to call Janne a good friend and clearly remember the day in 2006 when he was paralyzed during a diving accident almost identical to mine. I was called by two friends who didn’t know each other to tell me about their friend Janne’s accident and asked if there was anything I could do. I was immediately put in touch with Janne’s then girlfriend (now wife) to offer advice, insight and a positive voice. Once Janne was able to speak to me, we had our first conversation and have been good friends and champions ever since!

To learn more about NextStep Fitness, please visit www.nextstepfitness.org .

John R. Thompson Intercollegiate Athletics Center Groundbreaking

It was a monumental day for Georgetown Athletics as ground was broken on the new John R. Thompson Intercollegiate Athletics Center and I was so happy to be invited to join the festivities.  On a bright beautiful Friday morning on the Hilltop, more than 500 people - including former players such as Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutombo, Alonzo Mourning and Allen Iverson, Jeff Green, Roy Hibbert, Otto Porter Jr. and Henry Sims

When completed in August 2016, the $62 million, 144,000-square-foot project will be completely supported through philanthropy and includes practice courts, team meeting rooms, men's and women's basketball coaches' offices, and weight-training and sports medicine rooms for all varsity athletes. The Thompson Center will also establish a Student-Athlete Academic and Leadership Center, an auditorium, team meeting facilities for varsity programs and become the new home for the Georgetown Athletics Hall of Fame.

As a big supporter of Georgetown’s athletics and a member of the Hoyas Unlimited alumni athletic Board, I know how much this facility will be a “game-changer” for the success of our athletic programs and the happiness of our student-athletes. 

Taylor Price Spirit Award

Following the Junior Sports end of the summer Talent Show at the Westhampton Country Club in Westhampton Beach, NY, I presented the Taylor Price Spirit Award to Brendan Kenny. This award is one of three prominent awards given to campers every summer, but this particular award is "given out to the best camper, boy or girl, who embodies all the qualities we have all come to know and love Taylor for- enthusiasm, generosity of heart, kindness, compassion and of course, great spirit!"

I will never forget the day that I was told the Taylor Price Spirit Award was being created and have loved the opportunity to present the award in person for each of the last 10 years. I started as a camper at Junior Sports at age 4 and then became a counselor when I was 14, which means that I have been to 25 summers worth of Talent Shows and Field Days.

A Great Day at Yankee Stadium

Let’s Go Yankees! On August 19, my dad and I took our friends, Mike and Mikey D'Arcangelo, to Yankee Stadium for an amazing experience. After watching batting practice on the field, a trip to the Yankees’ dugout, and dinner in the Legends Club, we sat in the front row to watch the Yankees play the Houston Astros. It was an unforgettable experience to meet Derek Jeter during his final season as Yankees’ Captain and was a blast sitting next to Matt Kuchar of the PGA tour and former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg. A HUGE thank you to my great friend, Mindy Levine, and the entire Yankees organization for making this possible!

Dinner with Davis Love III

I had a great evening catching up and enjoying some BBQ at Old Glory in Georgetown with PGA golfer and former Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III. As many know, Davis has become a great friend to me since my accident and has kept me connected to the game of golf, something I greatly miss playing. Davis and I had a blast recounting all of the great things that they have done together since first meeting in October 2004. Keep hitting them straight Davis!

#TP10Year: A Night of Celebration, Motivation And Friendship

Talk about an amazing night! Over 215 friends and family members helped me celebrate the upcoming 10 year anniversary of my diving accident at the Prince George's Ballroom in New York City. The room was filled with excitement, love, tears of joy, laughs and lots of dancing as guests enjoyed live music from one of New York's best cover bands, BoogaSugar, and cocktails donated by Stoli Vodka and Budweiser.

Thank you to everyone who traveled from across the country to participate in this very special evening and a special thank you to Peter Wilderotter, President and CEO of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, and my uncle, Sandy Goodman, who both provided remarks before my speech that night. This party was everything I hoped it would be and I am confident that everyone had as much fun as I did.

CDRF Champions Committee Launches in Washington, DC

The Observatory at the Graham Hotel in Georgetown was filled with excitement, hope and positive energy as the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation (CDRF) officially launched its Washington, DC Champions Committee. I was thrilled to serve on the host committee and be one of the main organizers of the evening. Over 100 people attended the event and many expressed their desire to be a Champion of CDRF’s mission of finding a cure for spinal cord injury, while focusing on improving the quality of life for those living with paralysis today. For more information about the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, please visit www.christopherreeve.org