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10K, 5K & 2 Mile Walk, Madison, WI

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2017 GRAND MARSHALL

Shawn Patrick O'Brien

Shawn Patrick O'Brien


The Madison St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee is proud to name SHAWN PATRICK O'BRIEN as this year’s Parade Grand Marshall. Shawn, amongst his many talents and shining attributes, has been an active parade supporter for 20 years. He was nominated by many of his co-workers at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics who clearly felt he was deserving of recognition.

Shawn has shared his family history with us and, as with many Irish immigrants to America, it started with the Irish potato famine and the "great hunger". His family left Ireland and came to Ellis Island moving onto Wisconsin from there. James O'Brien was born in 1825 and Mary Kelly in 1835 coming to America with their families. Michael O'Brien and Elizabeth Sullivan also came. They are buried in Shullsburg, WI. Marriages were performed at St. Matthews (Irish) Catholic Church by Father Samuel Mazzuchelli, a well known priest in the history of the Church in southwest Wisconsin.

Shawn told us that Shullsburg was at one time known as "Little Dublin". It became a village in 1827. Shawn’s grandfather William O'Brien was born in 1902 and his grandmother Nelma Baxter in 1907. Shawn’s father Lawrence F. O'Brien was born in 1933 and his mother Donna M. Gable was born in 1937. Shawn was born October 11, 1961 in Darlington, WI and graduated from Shullsburg High School in 1980.

He was told that his ancestors came from Waterford County in the Republic of Ireland. They gave him an illustrious, very Irish name that he loves. “I have been given this name to carry on the famous name … Love the Irish name… Have been dressing up as a Leprechaun since as a youth and covered many parades and talent shows.” Shawn has marched in parades from Darlington to Dubuque to Fort Atkinson. He also worked as an Actor/Singer and as an extra in a number of Motion Pictures. Shawn came to Madison in 1997 and joined in on the parades ever since.

Titles from our parade contests, which Shawn has won multiple times include, "BEST DRESSED MALE" and "MR. IRELAND" . When he won "MR. IRELAND" in 2010 he was actually very ill, too ill to even march with a temperature of 103. He went to UWHC and immediately into surgery. Shawn said “I was diagnosed with Neuroendocrine Cancer of the small intestines. Treatments were at the UWCarbone Cancer Center. Today, as of this week, I am Cancer Free and enjoy working at the University Hospital and Clinic with the hospitality business and Food Service. Every day I thank God for giving me the strength to carry on.”

We are very proud to have Shawn Patrick O’Brian serve as our 2017 Grand Marshall. It is truly special to have an Grand Marshall who benefited directly from the health care provided by one of our longtime beneficiaries, the UW Carbone Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Shawn now has a dog named Oscar who won the "BEST-DRESSED DOG" contest in 2016.

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