Sullivan Family Scholarship Now Taking Applications

Feb 15, 2024 at 02:50 pm by WGNS News

By James Evans

RUTHERFORD COUNTY, TN - In the spring of 2020, Jimmy Sullivan got a call from his wife, Kaycee, telling him to get to Vanderbilt as fast as possible about an alarming diagnosis for their son, Declan. 

Kaycee had taken Declan to the doctor for an ear infection that didn’t seem to be getting better. He was lethargic, and they thought he might have been depressed because of schools being closed. 


“It was April 9, 2020 around 10:15 a.m.,” Sullivan recalls about the phone call from his wife. “I was in the turning lane in front of the Mapco waiting to turn towards the (Rutherford County Schools’) central office.”

After more testing, the Sullivans were informed that Declan was diagnosed with a very high risk Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Declan was eight years old at the time. 

Now nearly four years later, Declan wears the badge of a cancer survivor. 

During the ordeal, the community supported the Sullivan family in multiple ways, through fundraisers to cancer research organizations, T-shirts, Legos, and even a #DeclanStrong hashtag used by many to show solidarity. 

To show their gratitude for community support, the Sullivans have now created a family scholarship for any local senior who is a critical illness survivor or the sibling of a survivor, and who plans to attend a four-year, two-year or trade school after high school. 

To fund the Scholarship, Jimmy — who became the Rutherford County Director of Schools in July 2022 — declined a raise from the School Board last summer. Instead, he asked the Board to allow him to designate those funds to be used for the scholarship, and the School Board approved his request. 

Applications for the scholarship are now under way.

The deadline to apply is April 30, 2024, and the winners will be announced in May. The application is available online HERE.


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