Helen Keller Lecture Series | Troy University

Helen Keller Lecture Series

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Our speaker for the Helen Keller Lecture Series this year is Danny Gilroy ('92). 

Danny Gilroy headshot

Danny Gilroy and his wife Elizabeth ('88, '90), both graduates of Troy University, have been married for 33 years and are the proud parents of three boys and one girl; DJ (29) also a Troy graduate, Maggie (23) a recent graduate of the University of Alabama, Aidan (22) a Troy University baseball player in his senior year, and Rory (18) a freshman track athlete at Huntington College. Danny and Elizabeth currently reside in Montgomery, Alabama, Elizabeth’s hometown. Danny is originally from South Jersey but was transplanted to Marietta, Georgia, with his family before entering the 8th grade. Marietta has been “home” for 43 years. Danny graduated from Walton High School in 1985 and attended the University of Alabama before deciding to head to Troy in the winter of 1988. After receiving his degree (1992) in Theatre and Speech, he attended The Theatre School at DePaul University in Chicago for a year then moved on to The Alabama Shakespeare Festival in the fall of 1993. There he received his P.A.T. (Professional Actor’s Training) Certificate after completing an intensive two-year program.

After spending the next few years acting and working in theatre, Danny found himself in ministry, which became his focus for the next twenty-plus years. He immersed himself in many parts of ministry starting with volunteer choirs and worship teams and helping do what it took to lead a church. Eventually getting hired as the director of a Christian Activity Center for a local church, Danny was put in charge of a major weekly children’s program called Kidstuf. In February of 2004, Danny heard the “call” to become a Pastor, and in August of 2006, he and his family of six moved from Montgomery, Alabama, to Wilmore, Kentucky, where Danny attended Asbury Theological Seminary. While in Kentucky, Danny worked for a church in Frankfort, Kentucky, as their worship leader until he graduated from Asbury with a Master of Divinity degree in May 2010.

Over the next ten years, Danny was a Pastor in three different churches: one in Echo, Alabama; one in Enterprise, Alabama; and one in Pace, Florida. Just over a year into his four years in Pace, however, Danny became catastrophically ill. He was stricken with a very rare condition called Transverse Myelitis, where his immune system attacked his spine instead of a virus causing the myelin sheath along his spinal cord to inflame thereby crushing it. This rendered him a C6/C7 quadriplegic. In six and a half hours, he went from walking into a hospital emergency room door to being paralyzed. Yet, despite the “setback” and after a two-month hospital stay, he came back to lead the church through an already-started major renovation and continued to pastor for the next three years. In the late summer of 2020, Danny heard a call to “step back” from pastoring and in November 2020 stepped away from the church. Since then, Danny has become a motivational speaker, and he and his wife have been Independent Optavia coaches who help others take ownership of their health. He is currently working on a book and can feel his heart being “tugged” again and is trying to discern just what God wants.

About the Lecture Series

The Helen Keller Lecture Series, which began in 1995 as the vision of Dr. and Mrs. Jack Hawkins, Jr., was initiated to call attention to and raise awareness of the challenges of those with physical limitations, particularly those affecting sensory ability. Through the years, the lecture has also provided the opportunity to highlight those who have devoted their careers to meeting the needs of the sensory impaired and to celebrate the collaborative efforts and partnerships of Troy University and the agencies and individuals who serve these special individuals.

This year’s lecture is sponsored by the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind, Health Center South, the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services, the Alabama Department of Mental Health, the Helen Keller Foundation, the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, the Alabama State Department of Education, TROY Athletics and TROY’s College of Arts and Sciences, Sorrell College of Business, College of Communication and Fine Arts and College of Education.

About Helen Keller

Helen Keller was an Alabamian, an American author and lecturer. She overcame considerable obstacles to serve as an inspiration for other persons with disabilities. Born in Tuscumbia, Alabama, she had an acute illness that left her deaf and blind at 19 months old. No way could be found to educate her until her seventh year when she began her special education in reading and writing with Anne Sullivan.

Miss Keller quickly learned to read by the Braille system and to write by means of a specially constructed typewriter. In 1890, she learned to speak after only one month of study. Ten years later she was able to enter Radcliffe College, where she graduated with honors in 1904.

Miss Keller then served on the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind and, shortly thereafter, began lecturing throughout the world. After World War II, she visited wounded veterans in United States hospitals and lectured in Europe on behalf of those with physical impairments.

Her writings include “The Story of My Life,” “The World I Live In,” “Out of the Dark,” “Midstream,” “My Later Life,” “Let Us Have Faith,” "Teacher: Anne Sullivan Macy” and “The Open Door.” Her life is the subject of the film, “The Unconquered,” and the play, “The Miracle Worker,” which was made into an award-winning film by American author William Gibson.

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