Sometimes when Pat Quinn looks around at the people closest to him, it’s like high school all over again. He graduated from Iona Prep in 2001, but his connection to the school and its community still endures.
“It was one of those times I always look back on and I just smile,” Quinn said. “I loved my time there. It’s like it never ended. All of my good friends went to the Prep.”
The 32-year old Quinn, known best as a co-creator of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, will unite with his alma mater Friday night during the basketball team’s tripleheader against Christ the King. Iona Prep will raise money to benefit the Quinn for the Win foundation and promote awareness of the disease that has stricken the Yonkers native.
The school has honored Quinn since his diagnosis in 2013, including inducting him into its Hall of Fame last year, but this will be his foundation’s first event at Iona Prep.
“They’ve been very supportive, but we’re trying to get them even more involved,” Quinn said. “This is a really good first step. I played basketball there and what a better way to do this than to get the basketball team involved.”
Quinn and friends Frank Meade and Anthony Fava broached the idea to the school, starting with basketball coach Vic Quirolo, who coached Quinn from 1999-2001. The interest started there and then spread to the administration.
Quinn is still remembered fondly at the New Rochelle campus.
“He was like that blue-collar player that every coach loves,” Quirolo said. “He got some playing time. He didn’t always play a lot, but every day he brought it and he never wavered. He was our Mr. Consistency — a lunchpail-type guy. And he was just a joy to coach, a throwback player.”
Quinn has adopted that same dedication in his fight against ALS. He has become an adept public speaker preaching awareness of the disease. (In fact, he was interviewed this Tuesday afternoon while in transit to a conference at the Washington Post.)
“It’s not easy for me,” Quinn said. “I’m getting weaker and there’s no way to stop it, but I have to show people how I feel. I’m young, and young people do get this disease. People need to see that. I probably say the same things over and over, but it’s about rallying support, and what a better place to do it.”
Iona Prep has complied. The school sold maroon “Quinn for the Win” T-shirts during school this week and has encouraged students to wear them over their button-downs on Friday. The school will also sell merchandise and hold raffles and hand out other prizes during Friday’s games. All proceeds will go to benefit Quinn’s foundation.
Lastly, Quinn will speak to the crowd at halftime of the varsity game, which is scheduled to tip-off at 7:30.
To promote the event with the student body, Quinn filmed a video last week with Meade, who teaches at Iona Prep, and seniors Ty Jerome, Patrick Fleming and Jon Brennan. In addition to their support, Quinn has kept in touch with 2015 grad Matt Ryan. After the two met at last year’s Hall of Fame ceremony, Ryan has brokered talks between Quinn and Notre Dame, where Ryan plays as a freshman. Ryan said he hopes the school will host Quinn at a game later this season.
“These kids are good, good people. I’ve been impressed,” Quinn said. He added: “Now, all I’m hoping is that Ty comes out (Friday) and drops 30 and we beat Christ the King.”