It was difficult to pick just one characteristic that Melanie Sullivan, but I ultimately decided on courage. Courage and determination are rooted in Melanie’s DNA. As the mother of four, she served as their rock as they endured their father and her husband’s brain tumor diagnosis in 2010 and ultimately losing him to cancer a year later. Throughout the process, Melanie was the truest example of resilience. After his passing, Melanie honored his legacy by continuing their acts of service, including financing lower income kids in the area to play sports and take dance lessons, assisting in hosting an annual 5K in his honor to support the local YMCA, and much more. Come November of 2013, Melanie was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Her attitude through chemo and radiation was second to none. She even ran a marathon months after completing radiation – with barely any hair! She is now cancer free and living every day in the most rare and phenomenal way. Continuing her selfless ways, she is Crossing the Grand Canyon next month, an over 25 mile hike, to raise money for a brain cancer cure. She continues to inspire people daily with her selfless acts, determination, and courage.
Melanie’s personal mission is best summed up by John Wesley, “do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” She truly embodies this life. She is constantly giving her time, effort, and love to those around her. On top of everything I know Melanie does for the community, I know there are 500 other acts of service that we don’t know because of her humbleness. The beauty of Melanie is that her rare life is made up of thousands of small acts of kindness that make a big difference. Melanie is living a life that continues to honor the legacy of her late husband as well as to better the people and community that she lives in.
Melanie impacts people’s lives on a daily basis. As stated previously, I’m confident there are a lot of lives that we don’t even know she has touched but that are forever changed because of her. During her late husband’s funeral, extra chairs had to be brought out into a church sanctuary that had a capacity of 900 people, something that only happens at Christmas and Easter. All of those people were touched and impacted by his life and she has not only continued that legacy but exceeded it. Friends and family have witnessed her courage and resilience through his passing, her battle with cancer, and will to continue living. Most importantly, she leads by example. She never seeks recognition or accolades for the countless selfless acts she commits, but she simply inspires people to do everything they can to positively affect those around them.
What I admire most about Melanie is her resilience. Over the last 7 years, life has thrown any and every obstacle at Melanie and she has met those challenges head on each and every time. She has shown that no matter the odds, you are always in control of your own effort and attitude. It is this ownership of her situation that allows her to adapt to and overcome any situation with which she is faced. While some shrink in the face of adversity, Melanie rises to face it with unmatched intensity and fervor.
This year nearly 17,000 people will lose their battle with a primary brain tumor. In addition to the thousands of people who lose their lives, countless more families will be affected and have to deal with the pain of losing a loved one. If the donation can do anything to stop the suffering of just one of these families, I feel the donation would be wisely used. Our hope is that this money will help bring an end to cancer. It is important that funding is available for cutting-edge research and it is our hope that this donation will help fund these studies. While we realize this will not be accomplished overnight, we want to do all that we can in order to further this research and ultimately to find a cure by the most expeditious means possible.
It is hard to put in to words how truly amazing Melanie Sullivan is but collectively as her four children, we can only hope one day to be half of the person she is. She is the most amazing role model, who exudes selflessness and love in all that she does. Courage is a great word to describe our mother but it is only just one of her many attributes that contribute to her rare life. She has been knocked down time and time again but triumphs over fear and set backs with the most positive outlook on life.