On the run for good

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Cooley Law School Professor Patrick Corbett organized a run/walk to raise funds to help his friend and colleague Professor Phil Prygoski after Prygoski suffered a stroke.

Photo by Steve Thorpe 

Cooley Law professor presented Great Deeds Award

By Steve Thorpe
Legal News

Cooley Law School Professor Patrick Corbett felt helpless when he learned in 2012 that his friend, colleague and fellow runner Professor Phil Prygoski had suffered a massive stroke.

So he did what runners do… he ran, and invited others to join him.

“I’ve known Phil Prygoski for as long as I’ve been here at Cooley,” Corbett says. “He was my mentor and was real helpful to me. When he had his stroke, we all felt a sense of having to do something to help.”

Corbett was the Lansing faculty recipient of this year’s Great Deeds Award for his efforts in organizing the Run 4 Phil Walk/Run, which paid for needed transportation costs and to make Prygoski’s home handicap accessible. 

Cooley’s Center for Ethics, Service, and Professionalism presents the Great Deeds Award each year to a faculty member who has exhibited an outstanding dedication to community service in the previous year. Nominations are received from students, staff, faculty, community leaders, and recipients are then selected by a committee of previous winners and members of Cooley’s Professionalism Team. A separate set of Great Deeds Awards are presented to students from the different campuses.

The run was held June 23, 2013, at the Meridian Municipal Complex in Okemos with the start and finish near the Central Park Farmer’s Market Pavilion. There was a raffle drawing, food and music. All revenues from the event went toward rehabilitation equipment, physical and cognitive therapy, transportation, and medical expenses.

Major sponsors included Thomas M. Cooley Law School, Playmakers athletic equipment, Holiday Inn Okemos, and the law firm of Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes PLC.

The idea for a run didn’t leave the starting blocks immediately. It took a chance conversation to lead Corbett down that path.

“I was talking to his wife and said, ‘Mary, my wife and I have been talking about it and we really want to do something. Maybe could have a party and raise some money,’” Corbett says. “She didn’t embrace that idea. Then I was talking to a school secretary who grew up with Phil and she said, ‘You know, you’re runners. Why don’t we throw a run for Phil?’ I mentioned it to Mary and her eyes just lit up. She was very excited and felt that Phil would love it. It was the fact that she embraced it so vigorously that motivated me and many others to put it together.”

Corbett joined the Cooley faculty in 2001. After graduating from law school, he clerked for U.S. District Court Judge Horace Gilmore. He then served as a federal prosecutor for 10 years, including as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. He was recruited by then Michigan Attorney General Jennifer Granholm to help start the High Tech Crime Unit at the Michigan Attorney Generals Office, where he served as the Deputy Chief for two years

Prygoski joined the Cooley faculty in 1977 and is a 30-time winner of the Stanley E. Beattie Teaching Award, given by each graduating class at Cooley Law School. He teaches Constitutional Law, Children and the Law, First Amendment Seminar, and Constitutional Issues in Public Schools.

In his role with the Cooley Legal Authors Society, Prygoski has authored many law review articles dealing with constitutional law that have been cited in major treatises and casebooks. He is also a member of the American Law Institute.

Corbett stresses that the run was a collaborative effort and that many volunteers were involved.

“We got a committee of about 20 people together and the event wouldn’t have happened without those people.,” he says. “T-shirts, food, the venue, licensing, the application process, the website - so many things - the committee made it happen.” 

It was a good thing that the volunteers were strongly motivated, because the effort proved to be a lot of work, not least for Corbett.

“I think in terms of preparing classes and, for me, it felt like the equivalent of preparing for two new classes,” he says. “It was a lot of work! But also a lot of fun. A real joy.”

For more information on Professor Philip Prygoski’s recovery and to learn of ways to help, go to http://www. philsstrokerecovery.com/

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