The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Kevin Healey, 20, dies after cancer battle

Jenn Metz | Monday, April 27, 2009

Notre Dame sophomore Kevin Healey died early Friday morning after a courageous two and a half-year battle with cancer, and according to his rector, “he made the most of every minute he was here.” He was 20.

Healey, who was a resident of Sorin College, will be remembered by his roommates, friends and his rector Fr. Jim King as someone who has left a mark on Notre Dame.

“Kevin fought as valiantly against cancer as anyone I’ve known for nearly two and a half years,” King said. “His lifelong dream was to be at Notre Dame.”

Healey was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of malignant bone cancer, in December 2006. Over the past week, his health deteriorated and Healey died at home at 3:30 a.m. Friday.

The news was first posted on kevinhealey.com, a Web site run by his family as a place for updates on Healey’s condition. It also serves as a place for the exchange of prayers and thoughts for the Healey family.

A small plaque reading “Reserved for Kevin Healey, ’11” has been attached to the seat closest to the altar in the Sorin Chapel, where Healey sat when serving Mass, King said in an e-mail sent to Sorin residents.

Healey’s roommates and friends from Sorin described his courage and perseverance in the face of his illness and said in a joint letter that he “fully embodied the Notre Dame spirit.”

“He never surrendered in his fight against cancer and he firmly believed in the miraculous healing power of God,” the letter, authored by nine of Healey’s roommates and close friends, said.

“Kevin Healey was the most inspirational person I have ever had the privilege of knowing,” sophomore John Kelley said. “He simply refused to be defeated by any challenge thrown his way. His spirit is something we can all look up too.”

Kelley organized transportation to and from the Cleveland area so friends could attend the funeral services.

Sophomores Byung Jo “Victor” Yoon and Nicholas Bosler said their friend was the definition of strength.

“If I was asked to define courage, I’d simply say: ‘Kevin Healy,'” he said. “He was a man of pride who never gave up and fought until his last breath. He was a true Fighting Irishman who will forever remain alive in our memories.”

Bosler echoed Yoon, saying Healey “was one of the strongest people I had ever met.”

“He had touched all of us in so many ways and he will be truly missed,” Bosler said.

Other friends were humbled to have spent time with Healey while he was at Notre Dame, the place he loved the most.

“Throughout all my time knowing Kevin, he never gave up, he never gave in to his disease,” sophomore Javi Zubizarreta said. “He lived each day with courage, perseverance and an unending desire to make it the best day possible.

“I am incredibly humbled and eternally thankful to have learned such an amazing lesson from an even more amazing person,” he said.

Healey’s fellow Sorin residents thanked him for his inspiring friendship and remembered his effect on their time at Notre Dame.

“We ought all to thank Kevin Healey, at least those of us in Sorin College with whom he willingly offered friendship and many lessons to learn, even in his final days,” sophomore Steven Lechner said. “May his memory, which has united us now in this time of sorrow, live on forever in our hearts in thanksgiving to him and to God.”

Sophomore George Warner said: “In his short time here at Notre Dame, Kevin Healey managed to touch more people in a larger way than anybody I know. A true gift from God.”

Likewise, sophomore Conor Blanco spoke of his friend’s example.

“Kevin Healey was the strongest person I have ever met. He has inspired me for the past two years, and will continue to inspire me for my entire life,” Blanco said. “Thank you, Kevin, for your example of faith, love and strength.”

Sophomore Jacques Dupuis said: “There are few people who I have come across in my life as worthy of respect as Kevin. His candor, intelligence, resolve and friendship defined him to me.

“I knew I could speak with him about any issue, and though we did not always agree, he would not let a simple difference of views damage a friendship,” he said. “To me, that spoke to his true character and quality as a person and friend. The world has experienced a true loss with his passing, and I will always remember him.”

Twenty-seven of Healey’s classmates from St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland who attend Notre Dame authored a Letter to the Editor Thursday, asking the community to keep Healey, one of the University’s “most loyal sons,” and his family in its prayers after his condition worsened last week.

Freshman Sean Stefancin said Healey’s sharing of his love of Notre Dame rubbed off on him and that his sense of humor is something he will remember most about his high school classmate.

Healey hosted Stefancin for a weekend on campus before he came to Notre Dame and helped Stefancin make his final decision. When it was time for Frosh-O, Healey helped his friend adjust to University life.

“It was so nice seeing a friendly face from home during that hectic time,” he said.

Healey “lived so fully with what he had,” Stefancin said. “Not even cancer slowed Kevin, and I am blessed to know [him]. He has inspired me so many times.”

Healey is survived by his parents, Tom, class of 1981, and Ann, and his younger sister, Mary Kate.

Visitations will take place Monday from 2-4 p.m. and 6-9 p.m. at Chambers Funeral Homes in North Olmsted, Ohio.

A funeral Mass for Kevin Healey will be held 10 a.m. on Tuesday at St. Bernadette Church in Westlake, Ohio.

University Vice President for Student Affairs Fr. Mark Poorman notified all University officers and deans, residence hall rectors, Student Affairs Department directors and members of the Board of Trustees of his death.

A memorial Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart is scheduled for May 3 at 4 p.m. According to Poorman, the Healey family will be in attendance.