Boston Bruins and employee with Down syndrome honored by Work Without Limits for advancing disability employment

November 02, 2015

Every day that John Dunleavy, a man with Down syndrome, comes to work for the Boston Bruins he has a smile on his face and a positive attitude. That approach has made an impression on the entire organization, and led UMass Medical School’s Work Without Limits to honor John and the Bruins Oct. 27 for leadership in advancing workplace diversity and disability employment.

“He just brings up the morale of our employees,” Bob Sweeney, executive director of the Boston Bruins Foundation and a former member of the team, told “He takes his job so seriously and I think if all of us can take a little bit of his enthusiasm, I think we’re all going to be better employees.”

Watch a video from the Boston Bruins about the honor.

Dunleavy first began working for TD Garden five years ago through Lorraine Spadaro, who has led the technology and digital advancements for TD Garden for more than 20 years, according to

“Thank you. It means a lot to me and my family,” Dunleavy said after receiving his award at the Work Without Limits “Raise the Bar Hire!” conference in Norwood, reported. “I want to thank my mom and dad. I want to also thank all of you guys,” said Dunleavy, who also thanked Bruins President Cam Neely and General Manager Don Sweeney.

Work Without Limits presented Bob Sweeney with the Exemplary Employer Award and Dunleavy with the Exemplary Employee Award.

“Work Without Limits is excited to honor the Boston Bruins with our Exemplary Employer Award this year. Through their partnership with the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress, the Boston Bruins have been key leaders and advocates for hiring individuals with Down syndrome and other developmental and intellectual disabilities,” Kathy Petkauskos, director of Work Without Limits, said. “The Boston Bruins are true champions of including people with disabilities within their workplaces.

The Boston Bruins were chosen for the award through their participation in the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress’ (MDSC) new public awareness campaign, Your Next Star. Bob Sweeney and Dunleavy, who has worked for the Boston Bruins for five years, appeared in a video featuring individuals with Down syndrome and their employers.

“Bob Sweeney and the Bruins Foundation have been dear friends of the MDSC and our community for many years, including our latest collaboration on our Your Next Star employment campaign. Their commitment to inclusion is exemplified not only by bringing on interns with disabilities and by hiring John, but ultimately by including him as a true member of their team,” said Maureen Gallagher, MDSC executive director.

The Bruins award presentation was highlighted on Twitter, as shown in this Storify.

Work Without Limits, a statewide network of employers and community partners in Commonwealth Medicine’s Disability, Health and Employment Policy unit, is working to increase the employment rate of people with disabilities.

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