Concord High Class of 2007 plans reunion fundraiser to support Gene Connolly

  • Former Concord High School principal Gene Connolly sits outside waiting to greet students before school. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor file

Monitor staff
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Abbigail Saffian had an idea.

She knew her 10-year Concord High School reunion was coming up, and she wanted to do something special to celebrate former principal Gene Connolly, who is battling ALS.

“I thought, ‘Why would we hold an event just for us? Why don’t we turn it into a fundraiser and invite the whole community to support it?’ ” she said.

Saffian decided to plan a citywide pub crawl to follow a Class of 2007 reunion and semi-formal dance at the Concord YMCA on Nov. 18. The pub crawl will occur at four local establishments – Margaritas, True Brew, Tandy’s and The Barley House – all of which will donate a portion of their profits to the Connolly Tough Fund.

Connolly was diagnosed with ALS in 2014 while he was still principal of Concord High. He continued in the position as long as his illness allowed before finally stepping down in 2016 after 14 years on the job.

Saffian said she has fond memories of Connolly from her time at Concord High.

“He was warm and friendly with everyone,” she said. “I didn’t ever feel I couldn’t go to him for help.”

The news that Connolly had been diagnosed with ALS was shocking for Saffian , who attended high school with his daughter, Ally.

“You don’t want to hear about anyone who is close to you or that you know has a disease like that,” she said.

She said pitching the reunion as a fundraiser has generated increased interest in the event.

“Not many people are too excited to go to a 10-year reunion, but there are a lot of people who thought they wouldn’t want to come, and are now planning to,” she said.

The Class of 2007 dance will be held at the Concord YMCA, which is letting the space to the cause for free. Tickets are $20 each, and can be purchased online.

The four Concord bars participating in the pub crawl will each offer different colored stickers displaying the phrase “Concord Loves Connolly 2017” to those who stop by. Saffian said she is working to get the word out through social media and plans to set up a Snapchat filter for the event. Anyone in the community is welcome to join.

(Leah Willingham can be reached at 369-3322, lwillingham@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @LeahMWillingham.)