Closing Keynote Address

Mr. Connolly Has ALS

by Dan Habib


At Concord High School’s 2015 homecoming parade, documentary filmmaker Dan Habib watched his son Samuel have a conversation with Principal Gene Connolly. But neither spoke. Samuel and Gene used hand gestures and communication devices to interact—Samuel because of his cerebral palsy, and Connolly because ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease) had taken away his ability to speak. “Mr. Connolly Has ALS” chronicles Connolly’s final year as principal of the school and features CHS students asking Connolly about the most profound and personal aspects relating to his life with the disease.

Join us to explore the themes that Connolly’s ALS catalyzed in the community: how to live life fully; the benefits
of inclusion; what it feels like to acquire a disability; how people perceive individuals with disabilities; and how to approach an inevitable death with honesty and dignity.

Dan Habib is the creator of the award-winning documentary films “Including Samuel” and “Who Cares About Kelsey?” Habib is a filmmaker at the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability. Habib gave a widely viewed TEDx talk, “Disabling Segregation,” received the Champion of Human and Civil Rights Award from the NEA, and the Justice for All Grassroots Award from the American Association of People with Disabilities. In 2014, Habib was appointed by President Barack Obama to the President’s Committee for People With Intellectual Disabilities.