• After their son’s tragic passing, a Baylor family extends his legacy through health research

    A researcher works inside the new Mooney Lab

    As a former high-school wrestler, Brendon Mooney was passionate about health and fitness. His parents laugh that he often enjoyed the social aspects of Baylor as much as the academic, but he particularly loved his major of exercise physiology. Brendon was just a year away from graduation when a car crash claimed his life on May 11, 2009. Amidst profound grief, the Mooneys found support in the Baylor Family far beyond what they expected.

    “The University stepped up from the time of his death,” says Brendon’s mom, Joan (BSED ’76). “Two University officials came to his funeral, and we didn’t even know they were coming. They continued to support us and really made his life significant.”

    “It all made us want to give back,” adds Brendon’s dad, Richard, “to keep his name alive and to provide for students.”

    The Mooneys first established the Brendon Chase Mooney Memorial Endowed Scholarship to support students in Health, Human Performance and Recreation (HHPR), but felt the call to continue to support the students that follow in their son’s footsteps. Now, another gift from his parents has transformed the northeast corner of Rena Marrs McLean Gymnasium into a state-of the-art lab space for research faculty and students in the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences.

    The new Mooney Lab for Exercise, Nutrition & Biochemistry is already open for research, even as construction takes place in phases. The lab supports collaborative research by faculty in HHPR and Human Sciences and Design, both housed within Robbins College, in research that will address cancer, kidney disease, muscle loss, chronic disease prevention and more. The 4,100-square-foot lab features a cell culture lab, bench spaces for biochemistry work, and more, dramatically improving the ability of Robbins College faculty and students to conduct Tier 1 research.

    Brendon’s time on campus sparked the gift, but the lab reflects the whole family’s interest in health. Joan is a registered nurse and high school teacher; their daughter, Ashleigh, earned her degree in psychology.

    “We wanted to find something that was a combination of Brendon’s love of sports and my background in education and healthcare,” Joan says. “This is a perfect fit, to see all of the different disciplines come together and support future health care researchers and providers.”

    Sic ’em, Mooney Family!

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