When He Couldn't Find A School for His Daughter, This Father Established His Own

Sarah Jane Donohue practicing her motor skills at the International Academy of Hope

Patrick Donohue set out on a mission to provide top-notch education for kids with brain injuries.

Patrick Donohue’s life changed when his daughter Sarah Jane was born on June 5, 2005.

Five days later, his life changed again when he noticed Sarah Jane was noticeably lethargic and he decided to take her back to the pediatrician. A number of tests were run and a few weeks later, they discovered that she had lost 60 percent of the rear cortex of her brain — the result of being violently shaken by her baby nurse.

“I’ll never forget, the first day we took her back to the hospital and they were trying to stick an IV in her,” says Donohue, who lead a successful career as a political consultant. “Tears were rolling down her face. Her mouth was wide open but because of the brain injury she couldn’t cry. From that moment on I knew I needed to be the voice of Sarah Jane.”

Ever since, Donahue has been advocating for children with brain injuries. In 2013, he founded the International Academy of Hope, which is the only school in New York City that specializes in kids with brain-based disorders. Currently, the school has 24 students and 50 full-time staff members, causing a year’s tuition to run $135,000. The cost is reimbursed by the New York City Department of Education, but only after parents sue, claiming that there is no public school to serve their child’s needs.