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Tragedy begets charity.

October 27, 2010 marked a tragic day for the University of Notre Dame. It was on that day that film student Declan Sullivan died after a video tower from which he was filming football practice collapsed. Two years later. Declan's family has decided to turn tragedy into something beautiful.

The campus Observer reports, "Barry Sullivan, DecIan's father, said the family wanted to put the outpouring of donations they received after his son's death to good use in their community. The Sullivan family established the Declan Drumm Sullivan Memorial Fund and chose Horizons for Youth as its primary beneficiary last year."

Horizons for Youth is a non-profit center in Chicago that provides need-based scholarships, mentoring, and college preparation to low-income children in efforts to help guide them on a path that they may have not otherwise followed.

"This was a kind of generosity, it caught us off guard," Barry said, referring to the outpouring of donations the, family received following his son's death. "We sat down and. we talked about the things that mattered to us as a family and the things that we knew were important to Declan, and we came up with a set of criteria for a memorial fund. It included education, supporting the local community, things that would have an immediate impact in the local community."

Horizons for Youth proved to be a perfect fit. The program has a wonderful history of success, with a 99-percent graduation rate and with 80 percent of its students going on to college.

According to Barry. Horizons for Youth's mission is one that his son would have truly appreciated. "[Declan] had a great interest in film, and I know he was doing a lot of writing. ... He was coming to appreciate the benefits that he had, the kind of education that was allowing him to achieve his dreams," Barry said. "That's what we really appreciate about Horizons, and Declan would appreciate this. It's giving children who probably would not have the opportunity to have that kind of success, giving them the support they need to achieve those things. ... I think Dec would approve of what we're doing."

In April, the Sullivan family hosted its first annual "No Ordinary Evening" fundraiser to support Horizons for Youth in Chicago to allow the program to admit a group of children, dubbed Declan's 40, into the program. According to the Horizons for Youth website, Declan's 40 is the largest group of students to be accepted into the program at one time. The names and profiles of each student can be found on the Horizons for Youth website.

Barry and his wife were able to sit in on some of the interviews involved in the application process for Horizons for Youth. And for them, despite the pain of the loss of their son, seeing the impact of the funds they donated in their son's memory is "a very positive thing."

"I do think about that but for our loss, we would not have gotten connected with Horizons, and out of a very saddening and painful experience for us, something positive can come out of that," he said. "We're working with the children and seeing the impact. There's no pain in that. It actually helps to [alleviate] the pain we feel after that loss."

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Title Annotation:THE GOODNESS OF AMERICA; Declan Sullivan and Horizons for Youth
Author:Clabough, Raven
Publication:The New American
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 7, 2013
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