2013 Ride

Media

7th Annual Home Opener Bike Ride

Chicago1Right before the first home game of the football season, I had the honor of joining over 50 Notre Dame alumni from the Chicago area for an incredible early morning bike ride from Millennium Park in downtown Chicago to Notre Dame.  I was able to share a few words about the Road to Discovery bike ride before we hit the road at 5:00 a.m. CDT.

I learned about the bike ride from David Tracy, who joined me on the Road to Discovery leg from New Orleans to Mississippi earlier this summer. This is actually the 7th annual bike ride that Dave has organized in honor of the first home Notre Dame football game. Read more…

Join Notre Dame Science & Irish Soccer This Friday For The Flying Frisbee Contest

This weekend, the College of Science is partnering with the Women’s Soccer Team to raise money for Niemann-Pick Type C (NPC) disease research in a very fun way!

Bring your friends and family and join the College of Science to watch the Lady Irish face Oakland on Friday, August 31 at 7:00 p.m. at Alumni Stadium.

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Day 35: Silver Spring To Baltimore, Md.

Finish line!

It was a phenomenal end to the ride. As I rolled into the hotel, there were all of these Niemann-Pick families and children, and many Notre Dame Club of Maryland members. I was so honored to arrive to this cheering crowd. The kids the families were all there and it was such a great ending to this year’s ride. And even before I got off my bike, Coach Parseghian called to congratulate me on the fundraising success – a special moment in the midst of so many special moments. I was surrounded by these families whose passion, compassion, perseverance and magnanimity have been such an inspiration and shaped so much of how I think about life. It was overwhelming. Some of them wanted to get a picture with me, but I was the one honored to be in a picture with them. Read more…

Day 34: Fredericksburg, Va To Silver Spring, Md.

WelcometoWashingtonDCWell, I’m almost there. The ride from Fredericksburg through D.C. into Silver Spring was wet, chilly, and overall sloppy, with continuous rain. Any other day, it would have seemed like a struggle but since it was the next to last day, I did not mind too much. I am just excited to be wrapping up the ride soon and seeing the families and children with NPC at the National Niemann-Pick Disease Foundation’s 21st Annual Family Support and Medical Conference in Baltimore.  There was one incident today – we got pulled over by a police officer in Stafford, Va. Read more…

Day 33: South Hill To Fredericksburg, Va.

Chuck signs the van

Today’s ride was again fantastic. We had bit of a glitch on the routing first thing in the morning. We biked on a long, dark, very spooky dirt road for two miles before we decided to turn around, get out, and find another way. It was a long, but exhilarating day.

Our first stop was a meeting with Chuck, whose granddaughter Ashton has NPC. I met Chuck on the ride two years ago. He has been heavily involved in fundraising in Virginia with his son, daughter-in-law, and Ashton. What a wonderful person. I ask him to sign the van, although we’re having trouble find any open spaces, and he was able to get his name in. Thank you, Chuck, for coming out to see me today. Keep up the great work you and your family do for NPC! Read more…

Day 32: Dunn, N.C. To South Hill, Va.

Welcome to VirginiaToday’s road was long and rolling, but it was a spectacular day for riding. The route took us mostly through tobacco fields – tobacco as far as the eye can see. Some friendly dogs joined us, but no trouble. We crossed into Virginia and enjoyed the sight of well-preserved historic homes set in the beautiful rolling hills. It was a near-perfect day for biking.

Today I thought a lot about the finish line on Friday at the National Niemann-Pick Disease Foundation 21st Annual Family Support and Medical Conference in Baltimore. I am so excited to meet so many families and children – some I’ve met before, many I am looking forward to meeting for the first time. These families and children are truly inspiring. Read more…

Day 31: Myrtle Beach, S.C. To Dunn, N.C.

NorthCarolinaToday’s ride from Myrtle Beach to Dunn was fantastic. It started out with a lot of patchy fog but then the weather was cool, overcast and comfortable. We had plenty of dogs running with us, but they were the nice kind, not aggressive, and they kept their distance in parallel. Dunn is near the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill triangle that includes N.C. State University, Duke University and the University of North Carolina. More than 50 years ago, those institutions and other collaborators established Research Triangle Park, now the largest research park in the world and the oldest in the United States. The park has more than 170 companies on its 7,000 acres, including large operations of major firms such as IBM, GlaxoSmithKline and Cisco. It is a thriving center of entrepreneurship an economic development, a shining example of the difference that research universities can make to their communities, the nation, and the world. Read more…

Day 30: Charleston To Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Today I had company on the ride from Charleston to Myrtle Beach. Renate came to ride another leg with her sister Debby, and Dave, a friend from Osceola. When we arrived in Myrtle Beach, I got to see my daughters, Ally and Michaela, who were there with their cousins, Jake and Julia, and Debby’s husband, Matt. It was great to see them after more than a month. I even tried surfing at the end of the day – I think I’m going to stick with biking!

Myrtle Beach

The ride today was pretty straightforward, and the wind was favorable. The traffic was really heavy as I approached Myrtle Beach, a resort city with fewer than 30,000 permanent residents that attracts about 14 million visitors a year. Most of the way was flat, straight seacoast road – undemanding terrain that allows your mind to wander.

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Rest Day: Charleston

Dunleavys PubToday was a terrific day — it was great to be with the Notre Dame Club of Charleston again. Today was a day off from riding and although it was a busy day, it was still so much fun. We started with a delightful ride, about 10 riders, from Sullivan’s Island to Isle of Palms and back to Sullivan’s Island. The club has adopted a few beaches, so the signs say Notre Dame, which is a cool sight to see in Charleston. We had to stop for photographs. Following the ride, we ended up at Dunleavy’s Pub on Sullivan’s Island. Jamie, the owner, showed us his collection of football paraphernalia, with a Fighting Irish football helmet hanging from the ceiling. It was a really neat Irish pub. Read more…

Day 29: Ridgeland To Charleston, S.C.

Van at the Riverdogs gameI made it to Charleston, and wow! What a beautiful city. Church steeples, grand old homes with white-columned porches, the waterfront Battery, exquisite Southern and seafood-intensive cuisine, and delightfully diverse culture.  Rick, the president of the Notre Dame Club of Charleston, arranged a wonderful agenda for the weekend. The first stop on Friday night was a baseball game to see the city’s minor league team, the Charleston Riverdogs. Rick had arranged for us to park the van right outside the stadium before the game, so Rachel and Mario from Notre Dame Federal Credit Union were there, working the crowd  to help us raising awareness and funds for NPC. Read more…

Day 28: Sandersville, Ga., To Ridgeland, S.C.

Sand 2Today was a very long day – nearly 150 miles with some dirt roads – but we crossed into South Carolina and managed to reach our destination before the rains came. The wet summer has left pools of water in the woodlands, and with the sun shining they reflect the trees like mirrors.

I am thinking of our Global Health Master’s Program students who will graduate this weekend. I won’t get to address them because I’m on the road, but I am so proud of them. We have so many terrific faculty who teach and mentor the students throughout the year, and then the students take all this training and put it to practice. Read more…

Day 27: Fayetteville To Sandersville, Ga.

Despite the perfect weather and the accurate routes, today’s ride was a brutal challenge – long miles of rolling hills and 6,000 feet of climbing. It was one if those days I had to pull out all the stops to finish. At one of the food stops, I took a walk around the van and looked at all the signatures. I know so many are behind me. Then I saw the photo of Michael, Marcia and Christa Parseghian; the little magnet picture of Jessica and her little saying “never give up;” Shanna’s “thank you” next to her name and the bandana she gave me; the notes and the Clu bracelet from Amy and Amanda. I saw the reminder of Dana, who so recently finished her fight with NPC. These are extraordinary kids and inspiring families. I got back on the bike and pushed it to Sandersville. Read more…

Day 26: Auburn, Ala. To Fayetteville, Ga.

Welcome to Georgia

Today’s ride was relatively long with a lot of cloud cover and sprinkles all day as we biked from Alabama to Georgia. Another routing glitch added some extra miles. You’d be surprised what a difference a few miles here and there can make when you’re biking100 or more miles a day, day in and day out. Your legs feel the extra miles add up. I’m getting more excited today because the end is now in sight – I am looking forward to meeting the families and children affected by NPC at the National Niemann-Pick Disease Foundation 21st Annual Family Support and Medical Conference in Baltimore.

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Day 25: Greenville To Auburn, Ala.

KudzuToday’s ride was full of rolling hills, from the time we left Greenville all the way into Auburn. The weather held out for the most part, with only about 20 minutes of rainfall. One thing that defined the ride today, as well as yesterday, was the ubiquitous plant kudzu. Kudzu, which originated in East Asia, now is considered an invasive species in these states. Around here, it is known as “the vine that ate the South.” But the fast-growing, hardy plant was actually introduced into the United States on scientific grounds in 1876 by the Soil Erosion Service and Civilian Conservation Corp. The U.S. Department of Agriculture had it on a list of suggested ground cover plants until 1953, and now it’s listed as a Federal Noxious Weed, covering 7.4 million acres of the Southeast and expanding at a rate of 120,000 acres a year. Read more…

Day 24: Mobile To Greenville, Ala.

Sunrise on Sunday

The ride today was again interesting – more dirt roads and a big downpour the last five miles. We had a pretty good dog-chasing scare today – a quiet, sneaky one who barked at the last minute – and then we saw a very large owl carrying a snake. The route had lots of rolling hills, but despite the terrain and the weather, it was an okay biking day.

One of the incoming freshmen at last night’s event in Mobile is coming to Notre Dame to study astrophysics, and she’s very excited about it. Maybe that was on my mind last night when the sky was crystal clear and full of stars, and the sunrise today was as brilliant as they come – perhaps the most beautiful of this trip. It got me to thinking about our astrophysics work at the College of Science. Read more…

Day 23: Ocean Springs, Miss., To Mobile, Ala.

AlabamaToday we crossed over into Crimson Tide country. The ride was much easier than yesterday’s, but not especially eventful. We had a wonderful gathering in Mobile today with some extraordinary alumni. Jennifer, the club president, did a great job at organizing the event at a little restaurant called Rosie’s – it was terrific food and conversation. One woman who came will be coming to Notre Dame this fall, the first in her family to attend the University. Several Summer Service Learning Program participants also attended. Thank you, Jennifer, for organizing the event. Read more…

Day 22: New Orleans, La. To Ocean Springs, Miss.

New levy in NOLAWell today was the most eventful day of the ride so far. The elements were brutal – humidity, sun, heat, the worst headwinds yet, torrential downpours, so much sand blowing from the Gulf Coast beach that I felt sandblasted. But the people made it special.

Jeff and Dave from Chicago flew down to ride the more than 100 miles. Jeff, who is an executive at SRAM  has been so generous and supportive of the rides.Read more…

Day 21: Baton Rouge To New Orleans, La.

Media interviews in Baton Rouge

Today’s ride was uneventful – a little windy, but overall a relatively smooth from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. Two television stations in Baton Rouge had covered the NPC story, so we got a lot of supportive honking on the way out of town.

It was a very busy afternoon, starting with three interviews for the local CBS, NBC and PBS stations in New Orleans. I really appreciate all of the media supporting our cause and helping us raise awareness for NPC.Read more…

Halfway To Baltimore

halfwayI crossed the halfway point today, and I’m getting really excited about making it to Baltimore to meet the children with NPC and their families at the end of the road at the NNPDF conference. Many of them are friends that I have met before over the years, and they have always amazed me. Even at this distance, their passion and compassion, their courage and perseverance in the face of this life challenge inspire me in all I do, including this Road to Discovery, to finish the journey, as they inspire our Notre Dame scientists and students to cross that goal line for a cure. Read more…

Day 19: Sulphur To Opelousas, La.

Key to the city of Lake Charles

Today, even though I was riding into a direct headwind, the road was pretty straightforward and flat for more than 100 miles. We stopped at Lake Charles, 25 miles out, where I met with Mayor Randy Roach. Mayor Roach’s son Brandon is a colleague of mine at Notre Dame. The mayor presented me with a key to the city of Lake Charles and made me an honorary citizen. What a great honor. I was so proud.Read more…

Dana Marella

We received the sad news of Dana Marella’s passing just days before her 20thbirthday, from complications related to NPC. I had the privilege of meeting Dana and her family at their home in Connecticut on the Road to Discovery in 2011, and Renate still wears the necklace she gave me. Dana was diagnosed with NPC when she was 8 years old, in 2002. Her parents Phil and Andrea, who also have a son Andrew, who was diagnosed with NPC at age 5 in 2004, are such a vital part of the committed global team fighting this disease. They started Dana’s Angels Research Trust that has raised more than $3 million for research, including $400,000 at a gala benefit concert with The Beach Boys just last month. DART’s initiatives have led to accelerated development of potential therapies for NPC. Read more…

Day 18: Houston, Tex. To Sulphur, La.

LouisianaI wear this “Be Positive” bracelet around my wrist to remind me to be positive no matter what. I needed it today. The struggle started with chilly, sloppy, frustrating conditions in stormy Houston. We had about 50 miles of wet roads and a terrible headwind. I had to dig deep down to stay positive.  The worst was yet to come and because of poor planning (I didn’t check Google maps), our route turned out to be a rough road of dirt and large stones when we crossed into Louisiana. Read more…

Day 17: Brenham To Houston, Tex.

Today’s ride was really great – favorable wind and lots of cloud cover blocking the hot Texas sun. It was a really nice ride. Renate rode today and is heading back to South Bend on Monday. It was nice to have her back on the Road to Discovery these past few days.

Tonight we had a wonderful event with the Notre Dame Club of Houston. It started with a mass at the University of Saint Thomas organized by the club. Father River led a wonderful mass. Afterwards, we had a big Texas picnic BBQ style with more than 90 people, smoothly organized by Greg and John. Everyone signed the van. It might have been the largest turnout so far. Thank you, Houston Club, for such a memorable experience. I visited Houston few years ago to give a Hesburgh Lecture and I knew then it was a very special club – so passionate about the Notre Dame mission.

Notre Dame Club of Houston

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Day 16: Austin To Brenham, Tex.

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We got a surprise gift as we left Austin – a tailwind, the first of this trip. It was a challenging day, but the weather was beautiful and Renate was with me. She’s riding for the next few days and did great on the road again. Renate is a real trooper and so passionate about the NPC cause.

Leaving Austin, all I could think about was innovation and entrepreneurship. I learned that the University of Texas- Austin is building a new medical school, and so much of the university’s focus is very entrepreneurial. I always believed in an entrepreneurship university – with entrepreneurship defined as not just as starting companies, but more broadly as pursuit of opportunity.   Read more…

Rest Day In Austin

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I had an off-road day in Austin today – and what a fantastic day! First, I went to visit the Livestrong Foundation. Wendy from Destination Cycling, who just joined us on the ride, arranged the visit. She is a breast cancer survivor and has long been a supporter of Livestrong. Chris, the deputy director of external relations, was our host. We had a chance to tell them about our partnership with the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation and all about the rides. Chris invited just about everyone working there to the talk, and then they all signed the van.

Livestrong

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Day 15: Brady To Austin, Tex.

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4am start out of Brady

After a wonderful day in Brady, we had a short night and were ready to roll at 4 a.m. It was a long, rolling hill ride to Austin. The scenery really changed even more today, to rolling green landscapes with cropland and cattle. There were a lot of turtles on the road today. Finally, we arrived to Austin, the capital of Texas and an exciting, progressive city so quirky that the unofficial slogan is “Keep Austin Weird.” This city, routinely on the “best places to live” lists, is alive with ethnic diversity, a world-famous live music scene, and eclectic opportunities for eating and shopping. It’s also the home of the University of Texas, a Notre Dame football rival dating back 100 years. The match up resumes in 2015. Read more…

Day 14: San Angelo To Brady, Tex.

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Skye from the Brady Chamber

Today was a fantastic day from San Angelo to Brady. The wind died down and the sun was as brilliant as ever in the clear blue sky with moderate temperatures. Geographically, we left West Texas as the rolling hills started and the landscape transformed from desert to green crop fields and rolling, grassy cattle pastures. I was so glad that strong wind coming from the south died down a bit.

Today added three great stories to the vast Road to Discovery collection. Read more…

Day 13: Midland To San Angelo, Tex.

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Today’s ride was pretty simple – straight head. The wind was a heavy cross coming out of the south. The landscape again was pretty desolate and empty. On days with so much emptiness all around, as far as the eye can see, with nothing discernible to attract attention, in some strange way the mind is free to question everything.

In the College of Science at Notre Dame, we concentrate on teaching our students to be questioners. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics developed in the first place because of the innately human drive to ask questions. Every field stays alive and flourishing if and only if we generate new questions – new questions all the time. Questions, not answers, move disciplines forward. Questions challenge us in search for the truth, in search for solutions, in search for better ways to understand and improve our world. Read more…

Day 12: Hobbs, N.M. To Midland Tex.

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Today we traveled into Texas and made it to Midland, the childhood home of President George W. Bush. Midland, midway between Fort Worth and El Paso, is an important oil town in the Permian Basin and has a booming economy. The weather is beautiful, with low humidity and more than 300 days of sun a year.

The Road to Discovery today passed through an interesting series of landscapes – past a large uranium enrichment plant in New Mexico, through vast areas of sand, to farm fields, to heavy desert brush to oil fields. The ride made me reflect on the idea of change. Change is a big deal in the modern world, where we expect that the future will be different from the present, and we expect much of the change will come from science and technology. Read more…

Day 11: Roswell To Hobbs, N.M.

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Today was a pretty long day. It was flat and windy, and the vast landscape just seemed to go on forever. As we approached Hobbs, the oil rigs started to appear sprinkled throughout the territory. Hobbs is known for its oil and uranium enrichment.

Riding today, surrounded by this wide-open landscape, I reflected quite a bit on the contributions of the faculty and students in the College of Science. We always frame our research in terms of truth, common good, and service, and our faculty and students fulfill that. Read more…

Day 10: Ruidoso To Roswell, N.M.

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Yesterday at 5:00 p.m., I got a call in my hotel room from a couple of recent Notre Dame graduates, Thomas and Sarah ,who live in Denver but were visiting parents in Alamogordo, N.M. Thomas, Sarah, Thomas’s brother, and their parents took me out to dinner. It was a great night filled with Notre Dame stories. Read more…

Day 9: Socorro To Ruidoso, N.M.

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Today’s ride was not your ordinary century ride – it was 100 miles horizontally with nearly 8,000 feet of climbing. We started early from Socorro, traveled through some amazing scenery and caught one last look if the expansive lava field. We arrived in Ruidoso in the early afternoon. This is a fast-growing resort village with amazing scenery. It is right next to Sierra Blanca, which is nearly 12,000 feet above sea level, and the highest peak in southern New Mexico. The views are breathtaking. Read more…

Day 8: Eagar, Ariz., To Socorro, N.M.

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Today’s ride was nearly perfect. There were far fewer climbs, and although it was a long day, it was relatively straight forward. An unexpected beauty was the lava fields of El Malpais National Monument. The name is Spanish for “Badlands” because it is so desolate, but the landscape of lava flows, cinder cones, arches and caves from ancient volcanoes is breathtaking. It was a spectacular sight as we drove into Albuquerque today for the Fourth of July. Read more…

Day 7: Globe To Eagar, Ariz.

 

Today’s ride was all uphill – around every curve there was a new uphill challenge. The scenery of the Salt River Canyon was unbelievable. It is by far the most beautiful place I have ever cycled through. The winding canyon is 2,000 feet deep, the river flows rapidly, and the landscape is filled with deep valleys, sheer cliffs and rocky spires. Ancient people left carvings in the stones, called petroglyphs, and Apache warriors took shelter in this rugged terrain when they were chased by U.S. Cavalry in the 19th century. I can understand why they would feel safe in this gorgeous land so difficult to traverse. Read more…

Day 6: Tucson To Globe, Ariz.

Today, the Road to Discovery was more than 100 miles long, with steep climbing in the mountains. It was extraordinarily hard going, but the scenery made the trip beautiful. The views were spectacular – the cliffs and canyons, the sheer beauty of the desert landscape with its splendid blooming saguaro cacti. Read more…

Day 5: Gila Bend To Tucson, Ariz.

Well, the heat today was not nearly as extreme. We completed our leg of the ride before it reached 100 degrees. The magic today was the sunrise. Spectacular is an understatement for the brilliant orange rising about the desert and gleaming between the mountain peaks. We never really got away from the headwind, so it was a challenge the whole day. It was great to arrive in Tucson knowing that Cindy and Mike Parseghian would be in town to host an event in the evening. Read more…

Day 4: Yuma To Gila Bend, Ariz.

Hot and hotter.

Last year, riding from Boston to Pebble Beach, the wind seemed to be in our face day after day. This year, going with the jet stream, the wind is generally favorable – but the heat has been unbelievable. Today when we wrapped up the ride at 10:30 a.m., it was 116.4 degrees – and the temperature rose all of a sudden. We have really adjusted our schedule to be done around 10 a.m., by rolling out of the hotel at 4 a.m. to avoid the most dangerous heat later. Read more…

Day 3: El Centro, Calif, To Yuma, Ariz.

Day 3.1Today was supposed to be an easy ride – fewer miles than normal, no climbing whatsoever on the flat terrain, and we would start early enough to get off the bikes by 10 a.m.  However, the roads were terrible – the worst roads I have ever ridden for such extended periods of time. My arms and legs were getting beat up, as well as my bike – it was just a bad, bad route.   Read more…

Day 2: La Jolla To El Centro, Calif.

Day 2Well, this was one hard day – 74 miles of climbing and temperatures in El Centro topping 120º F. We rolled out of La Jolla at 4:30 a.m., in time to finish before the worst of the heat. The temperature was 108º when we rolled into town.  We are now starting much earlier.  The 74 miles included climbing over 8,000 feet, but the last 30 or so miles were downhill, descending into the Valley.  Read more…

Day 1: Long Beach To La Jolla, Calif.

Cindy, Amy, Amanda, GregMy new friend Amanda came down to see me off from the water. I met her with her mom Amy at the Pebble Beach dinner. Amanda, who is 21, was diagnosed with NPC two years ago.  Thank you, Amanda and Amy, for coming so far down the coast to see me start my ride at the Pacific.  Amanda gave me a bracelet from her horse “Clu” to keep me safe on my ride, and I gave her one of my ride jackets (too big to fit perfectly, but fine for such a big Irish fan).  I proudly wear the bracelet on my wrist with all of the other wristbands from NPC children – I promised all of them that I would not take them off until we had a cure. Read more…

My Visit With The Notre Dame Club Of Los Angeles And Jessica Leoni

Jessie's girlsIt was a beautiful day today – cool and sunny. The day started with the opportunity to meet with Jessica, a teenager who has Niemann-Pick Type C. We traveled to her home where her mom and dad, Lisa and Anthony, had a little party with the friends Jessica grew up with. The group calls themselves “Jessie’s Girls.” Read more…

Closing Dinner At The Parseghian Classic

Amy GrantIt was a Notre Dame moment like no other.  This is why we call ourselves the Notre Dame family:  We pull together.  After a wonderful two days of golfing, camaraderie, and building lifelong memories, the closing dinner on Sunday at the Beach Club at Pebble Beach gave us an incredible moment – a Notre Dame moment that none of us present will ever forget. Read more…

Notre Dame Club Of Ventura County

Ventura CountyWow, what a night in Ventura, California!  Jim White, the club president, did a wonderful job at bringing together the Notre Dame family in the area – about 35 in total.  We had a nice dinner at the beautiful Winchesters Grill & Saloon. The owner, J.R. Ford, pledged to donate 20% of all sales tonight to our efforts in fighting NPC, a bonus incentive for the members.  Read more…



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