Tom Burns, associate vice president for public, government, and external relations at Niagara University, will receive the Judge John D. Hillery Memorial Scholarship Foundation’s Community Service Excellence Award during a ceremony at the Buffalo Irish Center on Oct. 5, 2023.
Burns, a 1985 graduate of Bishop Timon High School, is among five individuals who will be honored for their spirit, dedication, and commitment to Timon and the Western New York Community at the Hillery Foundation’s 64th Anniversary Awards Reception.
Burns’ dedication to Catholic education is evident in his tireless efforts to elevate the profile of Niagara University throughout the region and across New York state, and he models the Vincentian charism in all that he does. He has been a member of Timon’s marketing committee for more than 20 years, is a member of Timon’s board of trustees, and serves on the planning committees for Kaleidoscope and TimonFest. He has emceed the Kaleidoscope, the Athletics Hall of Fame Induction, the John Timon Induction Ceremony, and the Hillery Foundation Dinner.
Burns’ commitment to serving those most in need is evident in his many contributions to the community. He volunteered for the South Buffalo Community Table’s annual “Get Together” fundraiser, working on the organizing committee, soliciting sponsors, and serving as the emcee at the events. When the event couldn’t be held in 2020, Burns and his family hosted two online “concerts” and, working with committee members, raised just over $10,000 for the Table.
Burns also donates his services as an award-winning photographer to Timon and to many area nonprofit organizations, including Mt. Mercy Academy, the Diocese of Buffalo, the Summit Center, the Grace Guest House, Shea’s Performing Arts Center, and the Marcy Dandes Family Bike Ride to benefit ECMC.
Burns was active in athletics and youth sports for many years as a hockey, baseball, track and field, cross country, soccer, and basketball coach, and an athletics coordinator. In addition to coaching, Burns served as a member of the board and treasurer of the South Buffalo Baseball Association. In 2013, Burns suffered a heart attack after completing the Shamrock Run. The following year, he ran the race again, and raised more than $5,000 for the American Heart Association.
Burns is a member of the board of the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame and the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame. He has previously served on the boards of the Police Athletic League and the Sisters of St. Francis Foundation.
The life-long resident of south Buffalo has been married to his wife, Maureen, for 30 years, and has a son, James; two daughters, Brigid and Emily; and a daughter-in-law, Brianna.