Staying with meaningful stories

It has been more than two years since Declan Sullivan’s death made headlines, but the story has continued along surprising lines.

It was a national story back in October 2010, as most stories involving the University of Notre Dame football team are.

Sullivan, a business major from Long Grove, was working for the school’s athletic department when he went up in a lift to record football practice on Oct. 27, 2010. As gusts reached 53 mph during practice, Sullivan’s lift crashed through a fence and landed on a street.

A few months later, the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined the university for safety violations in connection with the accident and the national media moved on.

But as a reporter from Sullivan’s hometown, I was able to stay with the story and chronicle the moving way in which the Sullivan family has handled the tragedy. They’ve never pointed fingers publicly or blamed anyone for the tragedy. Instead, they created a memorial fund aimed at giving disadvantaged children the kind of educational opportunities Declan had.

The fund’s primary beneficiary is Horizons for Youth, a charity that provides underprivileged kids with scholarships and tutoring so they have a shot at college. Last year, the program added 40 participants – dubbed Declan’s 40 – whose expenses are covered by the Sullivan foundation.

I write about some of those students in Tuesday’s Chicago Tribune and show how their lives have been dramatically changed thanks to the memorial fund.

They are part of Declan’s legacy. They’re also a reminder that stories don’t end just because headlines wane. 

-- Stacy St. Clair

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