2015 Thomas Dooley Award Event

Patrick picThe Dooley awards ceremony will be held adjacent to the Campus of St Mary’s College, Notre Dame IN, on Friday April 10, 2015.

GALA-ND/SMC, the Gay and Lesbian Alumni/ae of the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College, is proud to announce the winner of the 2015 Thomas A. Dooley Award.  This year’s award recipient is Patrick Burke ND ’06, co-founder and previous executive director of The You Can Play Project , and the current Director of Player Safety for the National Hockey League.

Patrick founded You Can Play in 2012 along with Brian Kitts and Glen Witman.  The group’s mission is:

  • You Can Play is dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation.
  • You Can Play works to guarantee that athletes are given a fair opportunity to compete, judged by other athletes and fans alike, only by what they contribute to the sport or their team’s success.
  • You Can Play seeks to challenge the culture of locker rooms and spectator areas by focusing only on an athlete’s skills, work ethic and competitive spirit.

Since its creation, Patrick has worked tirelessly to create awareness of the challenges of being a LGBT athlete.  Working with both gay and straight allies, he has been a tremendous leader to educate coaches, staff and athletes to create a more welcoming and accepting environment for everyone in the locker room and on the playing field.

Patrick was inspired by his younger brother, a gay hockey player in high school.  “My brother Brendan taught me what the locker room can be like for young LGBT athletes, then showed me the difference one person can make by standing up for what is right. With the You Can Play Project, we hope to provide a means for athletes, coaches, and fans to stand up and create an atmosphere of inclusion. As each person or team stands up, LGBT athletes everywhere will become aware that they can be themselves without fear. Freed from the burdens of fear and shame, these athletes will be free to play to their full potential, making our teams, our leagues, and the sports themselves better, stronger, and more entertaining.”

In selecting Patrick to receive this award, GALA recognizes Patrick and his work having a close tie to the Notre Dame/Saint Mary’s community, where sports is such an important part of the student and alumni experience.

In the spring of 2014, You Can Play partnered with Notre Dame Athletic Department to create a video of athletes from all 26 varsity sports showing their support for fellow LGBT team members You Can Play University of Notre Dame

The Tom Dooley Awards are made possible in part by a grant from the Raynier Institute & Foundation located in Seattle Washington who’s mission is to fund individuals, organizations and causes of a charitable nature that will carry out projects and programs of high merit for the betterment of humanity.

Also being honored at the award event are:


Dinner Event Details:   The Thomas A. Dooley Award presentation dinner will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn next to Saint Mary’s campus on Friday April 10th starting at 7:00PM.  There will be a cocktail reception followed by dinner and the award ceremony.

Register Here For The Award Ceremony  Registration to be closed Monday April 6th at noon.  To help defray the costs, event tickets are priced $30.00 for members, $20.00 for students and Notre Dame or Saint Mary’s faculty/staff, and $40.00 for non-members.

Panel Discussion:  In addition to the award ceremony and dinner, a panel discussion is planned Saturday morning April 11th 10:00AM with a theme of LGBT athletes in sports on the Notre Dame campus (exact location to be announced).  This event is free to attend and no registration is required.  Coffee and refreshments will be served.

Hotel Reservations– A block of rooms has been set aside at the Waterford Estates Lodge until March 23rd at a discounted rate of $85/night.  To obtain this group rate, call the hotel (toll free) at 877-783-8496, and reference our group name (GALA).


The Thomas A. Dooley Award honors individuals who, through their faith-based background, have demonstrated personal courage, compassion and commitment to advance the human and civil rights of lesbian and gay Americans. The award is named for the gay, former Notre Dame student who achieved world fame in the 1950s for his humanitarian activities while serving in the Navy in Southeast Asia, and even greater fame when he continued his humanitarian work as an American “jungle doctor” in Laos subsequent to his undesirable discharge from the Navy.

Previous winners of the award include:

  • The Right Reverend Gene Robinson, retired Bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire in the Episcopal Church in the United States of America.
  • Phil Donahue, an Emmy Award-winning media personality, a long-time champion for GLBT causes and a graduate of Notre Dame (B.A., ’57)
  • Sister Mary Louise (M.L.) Gude CSC, past Chair of the Modern Language program at St Mary’s, past Assistant Vice-President for Student Affairs at Notre Dame and past Chair of the Standing Committee on Gay and Lesbian Student Needs at Notre Dame (which eventually developed into the Core Council on LGBT affairs)
  • Sr. Jeannine Gramick, S.L., co-founder of the Baltimore and Washington, DC chapters of DIGNITY, a national organization for Catholic lesbian and gay people and the founder of New Ways Ministry, a social justice center working for the reconciliation of lesbian and gay people and the Church.