Family selects Horizons for Youth as fund’s beneficiary
Megan Doyle and Sarah Mervosh | Thursday, October 27, 2011
In junior Declan Sullivan’s favorite movie “American Beauty,” a minor character said, “There’s nothing worse than being ordinary.”
This line was a motto for Sullivan before his death one year ago today, and one his family remembered as they made plans to commemorate his life through the Declan Drumm Sullivan Memorial Fund.
Barry Sullivan, Declan’s father, said they wanted to use the fund for a cause that would be special to their son’s memory and their family.
“We do want the memorial fund to be an ongoing memorial to Declan, a way to kind of keep his name alive,” Barry said.
The Sullivans discussed a number of options for the fund and finally settled on Horizons for Youth, a Chicago organization that provides mentoring and tutoring for students in low-income families, as the primary beneficiary of the memorial fund.
“We wanted to have something that was local and maybe something that we can get involved in ourselves, if not right away, maybe sometime down the road a little bit,” Barry said.
Horizons for Youth works to give underprivileged students the ability to pursue a college education, he said.
“Their mission is really to try to see that children from disadvantaged backgrounds get the kind of education and opportunities that people like me, my wife … have been able to enjoy,” Barry said.
As part of the program, mentors help students with schoolwork and also take them on educational trips and work with them during the summer to ensure their academic skills are not lost over the break.
The Sullivans also set up an annual fundraiser to benefit the memorial fund and the Horizons for Youth Program.
Barry said the event, “No Ordinary Evening,” will be a night of dancing, drinks and auctions to celebrate Declan’s life, and will take place April 28 at Chicago’s Navy Pier.
The title of the evening is another reference to Sullivan’s favorite movie quote and his unique spirit.
“That was kind of Declan’s mantra, to be anything but [ordinary],” Barry said. “So we kind of came up with that name with that quote in mind.”
In commemoration of the one-year anniversary of Sullivan’s death, University President Fr. John Jenkins announced in a press release he will write to members of the Notre Dame family, inviting them to contribute to the memorial fund.
Notre Dame also announced an endowed scholarship, separate from the family’s fund, which will assist students with financial need who demonstrated traits similar to those that made Sullivan original.
Barry hopes this scholarship, which is set to exist for years to come, will be his son’s legacy at Notre Dame.
“Legacy is an interesting word … the idea of students of alumni returning to their parents’ alma mater as legacies,” Barry said. “Declan, he won’t have that kind of legacy.”
But Barry said the students who the scholarship assist could serve to keep Sullivan’s memory alive at Notre Dame.
“Let this be Declan’s legacy.”