This organization helps people with Down syndrome gain employment

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John Dunleavy has worked for TD Garden and the Boston Bruins Foundation for the last decade.

“It’s been 10 years. The best 10 years of my life to work here,” he told WBZ-TV.

John has Down syndrome and with the help of the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress, he secured that job right out of high school after an internship with them. He does everything from administrative work to community events and even giving the best pep talks to the Bruins alumni team.

“It means a lot to me because I love to give back to the community,” Dunleavy said.

He met former Bruin Bob Sweeney, the president of the Bruins Foundation, through the Congress and the Bruins alumni games a decade ago.

“It was the best thing in my life. He inspired me to come work here,” Dunleavy told WBZ. They’ve formed an unbreakable bond ever since.

“The one thing that resonates with me is he always has a smile on his face. Always has a smile on his face and that’s amazing and I think he lights up a room every time he comes in,” Sweeney said.

For John, this job means independence. He gets to work on his own by taking the commuter rail on a regular basis. The foundation is also a place where he feels respected by his co-workers.

“It feels like I’m part of the team here. Everyone has been so nice to me here,” he said.

They’re such a close family that John’s co-workers all helped him train when he was chosen to represent Massachusetts at the Special Olympics USA Games in swimming.

“It was a big part of my life when they supported me and helped me train,” Dunleavy said. Sweeney even went down to Florida to watch John compete.

The MDSC “Your Next Star” Employment Center connects people with Down syndrome to employers.

“There’s so many organizations out there that hire people with disabilities and they add so much to your workforce. It’s been an amazing ten years,” Sweeney said.

The pair now go around talking to other employers about the benefits of the employment center and hiring people with Down syndrome.

“If anyone can have the opportunity to hire someone like John, you should do it,” Sweeney continued. October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month and Disability Employment Awareness Month.

John let us know he has no plans of retiring anytime soon.

“I’m never going to leave. I’m going to keep working here for the rest of my life.,” he said.

For the past few years John has been an honorary coach at the Bruins alumni game that benefits the MDSC and he’ll have the honor of doing so again this year. The next Bruins alumni game is on November 19th at the Warrior Ice Arena.

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