Jay Grossman, O&E Media12:10 p.m. EDT May 28, 2015
Phil Sullivan and his son Trevor. The 14-year-old boy has congenital heart failure and is awaiting a heart transplant.
Phil and Kimberly Sullivan would love to wrap their arms around the staff and students in the Birmingham Public Schools district and give everyone a giant bear hug.
“I’ll tell you what, Birmingham Public Schools has just been remarkable,” Phil Sullivan said. “Every school has done a little here, a little there. Their support has been incredible.”
The couple’s oldest son, Trevor, 14, a student a Berkshire Middle School, was diagnosed in February with congenital heart failure and is on a waiting list at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor for a transplant.
It’s an emotional journey no family would want to take, but the Sullivans are getting plenty of encouragement from the community.
Some fifth- and sixth-graders at Birmingham Covington School are doing their part, having organized a “Blue Week,” or a week’s worth of fundraisers, to help offset the family’s mounting medical bills.
The students are part of a Serving Learning Class that is run by teachers Elizabeth Cook and Vicki Lowery. By the end of the week, the class raised just over $3,000 for the Sullivan family.
“I am so proud of the hard work our Covington students did to support a fellow student going through a tough time,” Cook said Tuesday. “They were determined to make a difference for Trevor and his family, and I really think they did just that.”
Blue Week was held the week of May 18-22 and included fundraising events at Kalamata Grill in Royal Oak and Orange Theory Fitness at Adams Square. Throughout the week, students sold Team Trevor merchandise, including T-shirts, wrist bands, ribbons and stickers.
Cook said the students in her class learned of Trevor’s plight through a newscast and decided to come up with the fundraiser. Each student played a role in putting the event together.
“Two of the kids actually met Trevor, so when you can put a face to the name, it means it even more,” she said. “It’s a tough thing they’re going through, as any parent could imagine. I’m just glad our students could help out.”
Berkshire Middle School Principal Jason Clinkscale and a number of teachers have visited Trevor during his stay at C.S. Mott and his football coaches at the school retired his No. 56 jersey. There have been countless bake sales and other fundraisers.
Plus, Trevor has already been told there’s an “assistant coaching” position waiting for him at Groves High School.
The young man has been in and out of the hospital four times since February. He’s now at home, wearing a defibrillator on his back to monitor his heart rate.
“It shocks his heart back into rhythm if his heart rate goes too high,” Phil Sullivan said. “Knock on wood, it hasn’t happened yet.”
He knows his son is dealing with a far tougher challenge than most people will ever face and he’s proud of the way he’s handled the situation.
His family has been told to stay within a four-hour drive to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. That means they’ll be spending the summer at their Southfield home, waiting for the call.
“The farthest we could go is Cedar Point,” he said with a smile. “And, honestly, we’re not roller-coaster people.”
Donate to Trevor’s cause at www.gofundme.com/TEAMTREVORSULLIVAN. More than $45,000 has been raised, but the financial cost associated with long-term medical expenses is huge.
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