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Senior fund honors former classmate

Mel Flanagan | Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Based on overwhelming support from the senior class, the Class of 2012 Legacy Fund decided to dedicate the money it raises to the Declan Drumm Sullivan Memorial Fund, co-chairs of the Senior Legacy Fund Sylvia Banda and Tommy Montalbano said.

Declan Sullivan, a member of the Class of 2012, died last October after a video tower from which he was filming football practice fell. He was double-majoring in marketing and Film, Television and Theatre, and was a videographer for the football team.

The Memorial Fund will sponsor a scholarship for a student with demonstrated financial need whose interests align with Sullivan’s, Montalbano said.

“It is designed for students who are not only in financial need, but who have demonstrated the traits that made Declan original, whether [it be] an interest in filmmaking, service to under-privileged youth, creative writing or other passions,” he said.

Traditionally, the Legacy Fund committee has solicited suggestions for what to do with the fund from students, resulting in a narrowed-down list for students to vote on.

This year, however, the high volume of initial responses suggesting the Memorial Fund negated the need for a follow-up survey, Banda said.

“That was the runaway winner, so as a committee we decided that this was going to be the [Memorial] Fund,” she said. “We thought this was a unique year so we decided to just announce it.”

The Legacy fund will begin taking donations from seniors in January. While graduating seniors are automatically entered into the 2012 football season ticket lottery, they must make a donation to the fund during the 2012 calendar year to be entered into the 2013 season lottery, Montalbano said.

Banda said the rate of seniors who donate to the Senior Legacy Fund before graduation typically hovers between 35 and 40 percent. This year’s committee hopes initiatives such as the “USC Challenge” will increase participation.

“We partnered with the USC senior class gift group and whoever has better participation rates for their class gift at the end of their school year wins this competition,” Banda said. “Whoever wins will get a trophy we’re having made that will travel from school to school.”

The committee also created Facebook and Twitter pages for the 2012 Legacy Fund. On Facebook, Montalbano said the group holds weekly drawings where students who “like” the page can win gift cards to local businesses.

“We’re trying to raise attention about the senior gift, encourage students to donate and recruit volunteers,” he said.

The page also posts videos, photos and a “bucket list” of activities every senior should do before they graduate.

In addition, Montalbano said donors who give over $20 will receive a pint glass featuring the Notre Dame monogram as a reward.

Although the Legacy fund is directed at the senior class, assistant director of the Notre Dame Annual Giving Program Tim Ponisciak said anyone is welcome to donate. Seniors are also free to donate to another fund at the University of their choosing.

“The number we’ll look at for participation will be any donation that seniors make to Notre Dame,” Ponisciak said. “We really encourage seniors to make donations to the sponsored fund, but if a senior wants to give to their dorm or major that still gets counted as participation for the senior legacy gift.”

Banda expects a great deal of enthusiasm from the senior class in response to the fund’s dedication.

“We’ve already seen such a great response from seniors,” she said. “This is something we can all rally behind and something that is very unique to the class of 2012.”