Troy University alumnus and motivational speaker Danny Gilroy will deliver the annual Helen Keller Lecture at Troy University on Feb. 15 on the Troy Campus.
The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 10 a.m. in the Claudia Crosby Theater inside Smith Hall. This year’s lecture is sponsored by the Helen Keller Foundation, the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services, the Alabama State Department of Education, the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind and the Alabama Department of Mental Health.
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.
“The Helen Keller Lecture Series Committee is pleased to welcome this year’s speaker, Troy University alumnus Danny Gilroy,” said Judy Robertson, lecture committee chair. “Danny’s life took a sudden and unexpected change, and we believe all will find inspiration in his story of how faith and a positive attitude are vital in overcoming challenges.”
After graduating from TROY in 1992 with a degree in theatre and speech, Gilroy 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 Professional Actors Training Certificate after completing an intensive two-year program and spent the next few years acting and working in theatre.
Gilroy became involved in ministry, immersing himself in working with volunteer choirs and worship teams, before being hired as the director of a local church’s Christian Activity Center. There, he led Kidstuf, a weekly children’s program.
In 2004, he felt called to become a pastor, attending Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky where he received his Master of Divinity degree in 2010. Over the next 10 years, Gilroy served as a pastor for churches in Echo and Enterprise, AL, and Pace, Florida.
It was during his time in Pace that his life took a dramatic turn. Gilroy was stricken with a rare neurological condition known as Transverse Myelitis, causing inflammation along his spine that crushed his spinal cord and rendered him a quadriplegic. In the span of about six and a half hours, Gilroy went from walking into a hospital emergency room to being paralyzed.
After a two-month hospital stay, Gilroy returned to lead the church through a major renovation and continued as pastor for the next three years.
In 2020, Gilroy stepped back from the pastorate and has since become a motivational speaker and with his wife, Elizabeth, has become an independent Optavia coach, helping others take ownership of their health. He is currently writing a book. Danny and Elizabeth, also a TROY graduate, have been married for 33 years and now make their home in Montgomery. They are proud parents to three boys and one girl – 29-year-old DJ, a TROY graduate; 23-year-old Maggie, a recent University of Alabama graduate; 22-year-old Aidan, a TROY senior and member of the Trojans baseball team, and 18-year-old Rory, a freshman track athlete at Huntingdon College.