Jun 18

GCF’s Brian Connelly was recently featured in TCPalm’s Luminaries dated June 15, 2012.

Vero Beach can be proud of hometown son Brian Connelly.  Born and raised in Vero Beach, he and his high school sweetheart Laurie are now raising their children here, and are major contributors to the community. Brian is also one heck of a funny person, always cracking jokes, and truly a nice guy who is dedicated to family and service.

At age 17, Brian had a rewarding week-long experience with the local First United Methodist Youth Group while in Biloxi. “We worked with kids in a day camp, and did some repairs and painting. I remember it to this day,” he says.

College of the Holy Cross offered Brian a full football scholarship, and Laurie was soon nearby at University of Massachusetts. After college, they worked in Boston for several years, and then back moved to Florida, where Brian earned his law degree from Stetson.

“Then I came back to my hometown,” he smiles. He now works alongside high school buddies Todd Fennell and David Carter as a partner at the law firm of Gould Cooksey Fennell.

Right away he became involved with the Mental Health Association, serving on its board when Turtle Tracks was conceived and put into action. “I enjoyed our work – taking the stigma away from the idea that mental disabilities are something to be shunned or not talked about,” Brian says.

Next, for very personal reasons, he joined the ARC (now SunUp ARC) board. “My brother is a resident there,” he says. “He suffered a bad brain injury eight years ago. When I finally got him back to Vero Beach four years ago, we were struggling with how we would give him quality of life. SunUp ARC does an excellent job of giving their life meaning and getting them out in the community.”

Brian and Laurie have agreed to serve as chairs for the $3.25 million SunUp ARC Capital Campaign that has recently begun.

He also serves on the Community Church board of trustees, and he and Laurie volunteer with Youth Guidance and the American Cancer Society. Each year Brian volunteers with National Law Week. “We go talk to the fifth-grade classes around the counties. It is fun!”

“There is no question in my mind that I wouldn’t be here if people hadn’t helped me when I needed it when I was young,” says Brian. “Later, when you get older and wiser, you realize there were a lot of helping hands guiding you all along. I like that I am in that position now, where I can help and give back. Like that movie ‘Pay It Forward.’ I am a big believer in that. We see an opportunity to help in some way and then we do it.”

Published on TCPalm online, dated June 15, 2012: Brian Connelly – Hometown lawyer pays it forward