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Why Patrick Garay Heelan Invests in Debate

Patrick Garay Heelan Headshot
Courtesy of Mitchell Hamline School of Law.

As a Senior Wealth Advisor at Bremer Wealth, Patrick Garay Heelan knows a thing or two about solid investments. He spends his workday helping families grow their funds and achieve their goals. In his spare time, he supports the Minnesota Urban Debate League as an Advocate for Debate. In his expert opinion, debate is worth your dollar:

“Debate helps you express yourself, helps others see your point of view, and creates a sense of self-awareness. As a student, it improves all your other metrics. If you want to invest in the community, this is a choice with a high ‘bang for your buck’, so to speak.”

Patrick never competed in debate himself, although he wishes he had. “I’m passionate about the fact that kids need to know this is an option. I was always told I had to do an activity, but in my mind, that meant a sport. I wish I had seen this was an option… I could have really started developing these skills at 14, instead of 24, when I entered law school.”

Another reason he sees value in funding debate: long-term payoff for the whole community. “I like the idea of kids taking up these serious issues – researching both sides and then forming opinions themselves,” he says of this year’s topic, criminal justice reform. “We’re all taking a hard look at what we can do to help resolve the issues that have led to the tragic death of George Floyd. Are our structures set up to give everyone access? Are we an inclusive community? Have we done enough? The folks in debate are going to become future leaders answering these questions. It’s important they can look into these issues.”

Patrick makes his gift to the MNUDL each month through the Advocates for Debate program. He enjoys the convenience factor, but more importantly, sees power in sustainability: “I have two little kids of my own. I want them to have the opportunity to debate if they go to a St. Paul Public high school, so I’m really glad I’m a part of the Minnesota Urban Debate League.”


COVID-19 has brought challenges to nonprofits of all types. When you become an Advocate for Debate like Patrick, you’ll help the MNUDL weather turbulent times with a consistent donation in a budget-friendly monthly amount you can set and forget.

Join our monthly giving program and/or increase the size of your current sustaining gift here: bit.ly/GiveDebate