It’s nothing new for Moraine Valley graduate and former Student Trustee Brian Kelly to want to be involved and make a difference. People who know Brian know that when he set his mind to something, he would do whatever it took to make it happen.

The same holds true with his current efforts to raise awareness for mental health, a mission that’s especially close to his heart. Brian’s high-profile campaign has brought him to the offices of the Surgeon General, and the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. He and his dad, Mick, even have spoken to Oprah Winfrey’s staff about his cause.

And what is it Brian wants? To have the United States Postal Service issue a stamp commemorating mental health, a request that was backed up with more than 42,000 letters collected by dedicated family members and friends who affectionately called themselves “Brian’s Brigade.” The good news is that the U.S. Postal Service in January 2004 approved the stamp for consideration. The reality of it is that three years later the stamp is still in the consideration phase.

“One in five people has a mental health illness, and I want to help raise attention to this,” Brian said, adding that he also would like to see the state issue a mental health license plate. Brian’s ambitious endeavor in itself is wonderful, but what’s even more remarkable is that Brian is alive to do this.

In December 2001, Brian suffered near fatal injuries, including extensive trauma to the brain, when the car he was driving was struck by a library bookmobile. The road to recovery has been long and hard, but thanks to a supportive group of family and friends, and an exemplary brain injury facility in Omaha, Brian is making progress. And, he’s keeping busy.

Prior to his brain injury, Brian was establishing quite a name for himself in the world of politics. He served as a member of former President Bill Clinton’s Advance team, was a paid staffer who oversaw the media logistics for the Gore-Lieberman 1000 campaign, and was hired as a researcher for NBC News in New York.

His political aspirations may have been cut short, but not his aspirations to continue to keep active and help others.

Brian’s family since has created the Muldowney Foundation to provide financial assistance to agencies that promote mental health awareness and rehabilitation. The foundation also helps victims of traumatic brain injuries attend the Brain Injury Association of Illinois summer camps, one of which Brian attended.

The Ronald McDonald House and the Immanuel Hospital in Omaha are the newest recipients of Brian’s good-will gestures. In addition to volunteering at the hospital, he collects pop can tabs that he donates to the Ronald McDonald Charities. So far, his collection has topped the 120,000 mark, and he plans to keep it going.

“I like to keep busy,” Brian said. “Like my days at Moraine Valley. I loved it. I really got involved. I never sat by and did nothing.”

Some things never change.