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John Dunleavy wins 2024 Employee of the Year Award at MDSC annual conference

Boston Bruins veteran employee and Winchester resident John Dunleavy, center, recently received the 2024 Employee of the Year from the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress. Richard Donahue and Bruins Foundation President Bob Sweeney joined Dunleavy on stage for the presentation. COURTESY PHOTO/GEOF SIMONS

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The following was submitted by the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress:

Boston Bruins veteran employee John Dunleavy, of Winchester, has been named the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress’ Employee of the Year. The award was presented on stage at the Awards Luncheon of MDSC’s 40th Anniversary Conference.

Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy, who has become one of John’s close friends in the TD Garden, recorded a special message for the occasion, which was played during the ceremony.

John discovered his lifelong employer at a very young age, when he and several classmates at Winchester High School participated in a work preparedness program that brought them to the TD Garden to gain real world experience.

The idea was that they would be temporary interns, but for John, the semester-long experience never ended. John immediately stood out for his work ethic, positive attitude, and ability to get along with everyone. By semester’s end, John had earned himself a paid position at the Boston Bruins. 

Now, 13 years later, John remains a dedicated employee at the TD Garden, where he delivers mail, maintains photocopiers, fills orders, handles Bruins and Celtics ticketing, and replenishes the break room.

According to Richard Donahue, who presented John with the award before an audience of 500 at the DCU in Worcester on March 23, “What John brings to the job and his work environment goes way beyond his job description. It’s not just his loyalty, it’s that he has effortlessly established himself as an institution — just by being himself,” he said.

John was joined on stage by another close friend, Bruins Foundation President Bob Sweeney. As Bob explained, John's very presence continues to literally change the workplace culture and environment in their workplace.

“As soon as John walks into the building, everyone’s mood instantly changes,” Bob said.

In order to make an even bigger difference in the world, John has continued to share his compelling success story with the media. Last October, during Down Syndrome Awareness Month and Disability Employment Awareness Month, Bob and John welcomed CBS Boston to shadow them around TD Garden. As Bob explained in the story that aired, "People with disabilities add so much to your workforce. If any organization has the opportunity to hire someone like John, they should do it.”

John is so dedicated to the Bruins Foundation that when asked by CBS when he’s planning to retire, he responded, "I'm never going to leave. I'm going to keep working here for the rest of my life.”

The MDSC’s Philip Donahue Employee of the Year Award is named after Philip Donahue, who retired in 2022 after 27 years of loyal service to Market Basket. The award was presented by Philip’s beloved brother Richard Donahue.

The MDSC’s Annual Conference is among the largest educational events on Down syndrome in the nation, bringing together over 500 people with Down syndrome, their family members, health care professionals and educators from across New England.


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