Domers in the news

Author: Carol Schaal

He ran his first-ever marathon in Antarctica on January 23. Then he ran one in Chile and one in the United States and in Spain and Morocco and the United Arab Emirates and, on January 30, in Australia. Seven marathons, seven continents and seven days later, Pat Fallon ’90 had completed the World Marathon Challenge. “It’s mind over matter,” the 48-year-old member of the Texas House of Representatives had said before the grueling competition. Fallon took on the challenge as a way to raise money for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation and to honor Jonny Wade, an 8-year-old from Illinois who died of brain cancer last year. Fallon, the father of two boys, had been following Jonny’s medical journey on social media sites and wanted to help make his wish — “I don’t want any other kid to have cancer” — come true. . . . Readers of this magazine’s online edition may recognize the name Michael Molinelli ’82 as the creator of the Molarity cartoons. Now the cartoonist and award-winning New York architect has added radio host to his resume. His “Religion and Architecture” 12-week series premiered February 8 on RadioMaria. . . . It probably doesn’t smell like one, but the mobile app Speshio is designed to mimic the features of a locker room. Former ND volleyball player Stephanie Slatt ’11 says, “Anyone who is or was an athlete knows the magic, support, motivation, trust and camaraderie that can be found in a team’s locker room.” In February, the Seattle resident launched the digital locker room that allows users to create teams and share such items as workouts, photos and challenges for whatever the group’s goal may be, from losing weight to starting a business. . . . In his January appearance on Jeopardy!, Dom Tassoni ’08 of Milwaukee talked about how much his dog enjoys watching TV. The pooch may have been upset when Tassoni ended up in third place on the show, but his $1,000 winnings should buy plenty of dog treats. . . . Her post-grad path didn’t lead to business or law or medical school. Instead, art history major Ashley C. Chan ’08 went for the gold at the Gemological Institute of America, where her studies included jewelry design. Last year the Chicagoan introduced her line of fine jewelry under her Chinese name, Lei Lee, which means “lotus flower.” Chan’s pieces have been featured in Eclat International and the Chicago Sun-Times SPLASH magazine, and are available online ( and at Chicago’s Marshall Pierce & Company store. . . . Nora Baldwin ’07MBA, ’07J.D. did go to business school and to law school, but her post-post-graduate path led her to design classes and the autumn 2014 debut of Viva Creatures!, high-end vegan handbags made of U.S.-produced nylon microfiber. The Denver entrepreneur and animal lover also is committed to minimizing environmental impact: “We source the most beautiful vegan fabrics with the smallest footprint we can manage,” she says. . . . James Gajewski, M.D., ’78 recently was elected to mastership status by the American College of Physicians, an honor that “recognizes excellence and distinguished contributions to internal medicine.” Along with clinical care of patients, the Portland, Oregon, doctor researches stem-cell transplants and advocates for reform in the U.S. healthcare system to ensure access for patients in need. . . . January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention month, and Brian Ulicny ’85 was among the organizers of a two-day winter event during which programmers designed apps and analytic tools to aid law enforcement efforts to fight sex trafficking. Ulicny is the director of data science at Thomson Reuters’ Data Innovation Lab, a project leader of the Boston hackathon. . . . “Though we lived at or below the poverty line, I always felt loved and cared for, my mom miraculously finding a way to keep food on the table,” while food stamps, WIC and subsidized school lunches often helped fill the hunger gap. Former ND women’s basketball star Ruth Riley ’01 shares her story of growing up poor in Make It Zero: The Movement to Safeguard Every Child, by Mary Frances Bowley with Jennifer B. Franklin (Moody Publishers). The book explores issues affecting at-risk children in America and offers specific ways readers can help make a difference. . . . He ran the Chicago marathon at age 68, was ordained a priest at age 69 and now, in his mid-70s, Father Denis O’Shaughnessy ’61 is pastor of Mary Queen of Heaven parish in Jacksonville, Florida. The late-vocation clergyman, the father of four and a former GM executive, discerned a calling to the priesthood following the death of his wife. . . . Will McLeod ’09, ’10M.S. was named to Forbes 30 under 30 list in manufacturing and industry for co-founding SmarterShade and developing the technology for a “smart glass that tints on command,” then co-founding Keen Home, which manufactures smart vents. . . . Carolyn Rumer ’10 says her work as a volunteer at a rape crisis advocacy center while at Notre Dame revealed how much victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence “need ongoing legal support and protection.” That realization spurred her enrollment at the University of Virginia School of Law, and the attorney plans to continue on that social justice path as a recipient of an Equal Justice Works Fellowship. As part of her two-year tenure, Rumer will begin work this fall with the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, where she will focus on ways to aid the financial stability of low-income survivors of abuse. . . . Enough with the pessimism: Catholic sisters are not heading toward extinction. That was one of the findings of “Understanding U.S. Catholic Sisters,” a report by Kathleen Sprows Cummings ’95M.A., ’99Ph.D., a Notre Dame associate professor and the director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism. Commissioned by FADICA, Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities, the analysis of recent sociological studies also revealed that U.S. Catholic sisters “are hopeful about their future, unified amidst diversity, and attracted by joy to consecrated life.” The study can be downloaded at . . . “I am beyond excited that we are in the Super Bowl,” Denver Broncos safety David Bruton ’09 wrote in a February column for The Denver Post. And cheerleading was his main role for his team’s winning Super Bowl 50 appearance, as he was on injured reserve with a broken fibula. But Bruton himself earned cheers from his teammates, who chose him as their 2015 Walter Payton man of the year nominee for his humanitarian and community service work. That selection meant his Denver-area foundation, Bruton’s Books, received a $10,000 donation from Nationwide, which will continue the charity’s mission of helping “low-income children in grades K-3 become strong readers through tutoring and by providing books to underfunded schools, libraries, and classrooms.” . . . Protecting Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was the role of offensive tackle Ryan Harris ’07 during the Super Bowl. And Harris, who converted to Islam in the eighth grade, also had stepped up to speak on behalf of his fellow Muslims in the wake of the “bigoted comments” made by some politicians. “Spend time with Muslims if you have questions about it, and really learn that Muslims don’t support heinous acts that terrorists commit,” he told The Denver Post. . . . The New England Patriots didn’t make it to Super Bowl 50, but linebacker Darius Fleming ’12 was a hero of a different sort in January when he kicked out the window of a wrecked car and rescued the woman inside. The deed left him with cuts requiring 22 stitches in his right leg, but Fleming helped his team win a divisional-round playoff game just two days later.

Carol Schaal is managing editor of this magazine.