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True Fighting Irish spirit

Emily Conron | Tuesday, October 25, 2011

When I started planning for NTD Awareness Week 2011, which wrapped up on Oct. 9, I was angry.

I was angry that my club, ND Fighting NTDs, which is dedicated to raising awareness of neglected tropical diseases — a group of diseases that infect 1.4 billion people yet can be treated for just $0.50 each day — received a pittance of an allocation from the Club Coordination Council. I was angry that Congress is cutting humanitarian aid for NTD victims by ten percent next year. I was angry that no one on this campus seemed to know or care what an NTD was, outside of the couple dozen people in ND Fighting NTDs.

I write this having had a major change of heart. From the first event of NTD Awareness Week Monday morning, a bagel and brochure giveaway outside of DeBartolo, to the last event Sunday night, a collection in dorm Masses and a Rosary for Global Health at the Grotto, I was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and generosity of the Notre Dame students, faculty and staff. The entire campus opened its ears, hearts and wallets to our cause. There were such quiet acts of kindness and generosity throughout the week that made all of our club’s hard work worth it 10 times over: a nameless person dropping a $50 bill in our cash box at the dirt cup dessert sale and telling us to keep the change, a guitarist in Sorin College donating a stack of bills he’d earned playing on the quad before the Air Force game to his dorm’s Mass collection, a large cash donation from a prominent Notre Dame figure who asked not to be recognized for his generosity — the list goes on.

I am still passionate about neglected tropical diseases and frustrated at the absence of a unified international effort to treat these “best buys” in global health. However, I am heartened to see that the Fighting Irish spirit isn’t limited to the football field. The Notre Dame community reminded me last week that you care deeply about the impoverished people of our world, and through your words and actions, have committed to fighting for those who are fighting to live.

God bless, and thank you,

Emily Conron


Breen-Phillips Hall

Oct. 13