Best & Brightest
Walshes Merit 2011 William P. Rinaldi Memorial Award
Robert J. ("Bobby") Walsh '97, a Systems Support Specialist for Lackawanna County, along with his parents, Joseph and Catherine, were honored at the 2011 UN Day Luncheon with the William P. Rinaldi Memorial Award.
Mary (Ferrario) Rinaldi '71 (M.S. '77), Lackawanna County Clerk of Judicial Records and the wife of the late William P. Rinaldi, praised the Walsh Family "for the compassion and courage they embody every day of their lives. They strive to better their family and community by positively changing attitudes." She, along with Mr. Rinaldi's mother, Rosebud, presented the award.
Bobby, who has cerebral palsy, expressed his deep gratitude, taking the opportunity to thank those who have served as role models in his life, including his parents, who adopted him when he was 11 from St. Joseph's Center. Special mention was made of the late Joseph X. Flannery, a columnist for The Scranton Times-Tribune, who told Bobby's story and rallied community support for him to obtain an "Express 3" device, which made it possible for him to communicate. Additionally, he thanked Bill Nellis and the Kiwanis Club, also major supporters in the effort to obtain his communication device. All of these people and many more, he said, "were the backbone of my success."
He recalled the book, It Takes a Village, by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, stating, "I feel it took a village of people to help me to be successful and (support) what I accomplished in thirty years."
Bobby started school in a sixth-grade physically handicapped and learning disabled class. He accomplished six years in one year at the West Scranton Middle School, was mainstreamed into regular classes, and graduated from high school, ranked 26th out of 197 students. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Marywood University in 1997.
Praising his educational experiences, both in the Scranton School District and at Marywood, as well as the people who helped him and his parents along the way, he also acknowledged with heartfelt gratitude the man for whom the award is named.
"Bill was my role model," said Bobby. "He was a true pioneer for people with disabilities. Whenever he spoke, it came from his heart. I feel very blessed; I got an opportunity to know him and to call him a friend."
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