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Mavericks Making a Difference: Mercy Physical Therapy Student Raises Funds for Wife and Sister’s PPE through Music

Man playing bagpipes

Like many other students whose studies have been disrupted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, James Kiernan, physical therapy student at Mercy, adjusted quickly to the new normal. But how many can say they leveraged their musical ability to help supply front-line hospital workers with protective masks?

Kiernan has become primary caretaker of his two small children while his wife Stephanie works long hours as an emergency room doctor. Hearing both his wife and his sister, an emergency room nurse at White Plains Hospital, express concern over the shortage of surgical masks, Kiernan started thinking creatively about how he could help.

Turns out Kiernan is a proud member of County Cork’s Pipe and Drum, a bagpipe band that, until this year, paraded every St. Patrick’s Day. After being inspired by viral videos of quarantined Italians singing from their terraces in New York City, Kiernan began giving bagpipe performances on the balcony of his Queens high rise.

After a few performances, which he live-streamed on Facebook and used to promote raising funds for personal protective equipment (PPE), something incredible happened. People could be heard cheering from neighboring buildings. And donations started pouring in.

In a matter of days, Kiernan’s bagpipe gambit had helped him exceed his initial fundraising goal. “Two thousand masks were delivered today to White Plains Hospital!” he joyfully posted on social media. “Now who wants to help get more?!” Because of course, Kiernan’s physical therapy cohort — in true Maverick style — prodded him to set a new, more ambitious fundraising goal.

Kiernan credits fellow physical therapy students, especially classmate Daniel Braver, with helping him start the fundraiser to raise money for PPE. To watch one of Kiernan’s bagpipe performances click here.

Mercy is a strong community and by working together we will make our community even stronger. If you are a Maverick making a difference, or you know of one, let us know at PR@mercy.edu.

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