Former Pirates coach to speak at St. Anthony dinner

Thursday, September 26, 2019 - Updated: 1:01 pm

By JOHN FRANKO Staff Writer

The stories about St. Anthony School Programs are truly inspiring. Through the diligence of the staff and his own willpower, an autistic boy who was nonverbal now speaks and communicates well. Another boy who had limited verbal skills now reads at school Masses.

“They can now find their way in the world,” said Jerry Gaughan, director of the programs’ charitable foundation.

The faith-filled work of St. Anthony’s will be highlighted at its 22nd Annual Dinner and Auction Oct. 18 at the downtown Westin Convention Center Pittsburgh.

The guest speaker will be former Pirates coach Rich Donnelly.

Rooted in the Gospel, the program provides an academic course of studies and vocational training for students ages 5-21 with intellectual disabilities. It strives to maximize the student’s potential for learning, fosters self-respect and confidence, and helps develop competence in employment and living skills.

“We provide the hope and perseverance that helps them to become functional people in the world,” Gaughan said.

Donnelly has his own story of overcoming obstacles and persevering in life, Gaughan said. Donnelly is the author of “The Chicken Runs at Midnight: A Daughter’s Message from Heaven That Changed a Father’s Heart and Won a World Series,” in which he describes losing his daughter, Amy, to a brain tumor at 18. In 2018, he lost his son, Michael, in a tragic road accident.

“He talks about faith and hope and perseverance,” Gaughan said. “That’s what our kids do, they persevere.”

St. Anthony School Programs promotes inclusive education within schools of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. It operates at four elementary locations — Blessed Trinity Academy, Glenshaw; Mary of Nazareth, White Oak; St. Thomas More, Bethel Park; and St. Therese, Munhall.

The secondary locations are Bishop Canevin High, Crafton; Serra Catholic, McKeesport; and North Catholic, Cranberry Township. A post-secondary program is hosted by Duquesne University.

The cost to educate a student in the program is approximately $18,000 a year. Parents pay about $6,000, with St. Anthony’s paying the balance. Financial aid is available to those who qualify.

The program does not receive government funding, and Gaughan said it operates primarily through the generosity of benefactors and supporters. The dinner is the third leading means of support.

Information on the dinner and auction is available by calling 724-940-9020, visiting www.stanthonykids.org or on Facebook at St. Anthony School Programs.

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