B&G Club playground dedicated in infant’s memory
On Saturday, April 20, a large group gathered at the Boys & Girls Club for the dedication of a new playground to the memory of Rhett Sullivan.
The dedication was in memory of the nephew of Club Executive Director Sarah Sullivan and was the infant son of Hernandez’s brother and sister-in-law, Ryan and Tyler Sullivan.
“Each winter we wait anxiously for spring to arrive as the weather allows for many fun outdoor activities,” Hernandez told the group. “That is no exception, at Boys & Girls Club of Vernon. You can hear the screams and squeals of that excitement from blocks away as numerous children adore the outdoor playgrounds at the club. This spring, the club and members are overjoyed to be able to enjoy a brand new playground, replacing the broken 30-plus year old equipment that was present until weeks ago.”
Hernandez said that a donation from Ryan and Tyler Sullivan provided the funds to purchase the new equipment.
Hernandez said that Rhett was born on July 3, 2017. He was the couples’ third child following two sisters, Hudson and Emory.
“The girls adored their little brother,” Hernandez said. “Rhett was such a great baby and fit right into the family, almost like he had always been a part of it.”
Hernandez noted that the day of Sept. 20, 2017 was like any other day. She said that her brother reported the baby had been dressed, fed him and taken to his sitter’s house. His parents kissed him and said goodbye, not realizing that would be the last time they would see their baby boy. Later that morning, Rhett was found unresponsive and not breathing during his morning nap. Ultimately, Rhett passed away on Sept. 22, 2017 at 8:29 p.m. as he took his last supported breath.
“The journey of reshaping the families’ lives and carrying on after the loss of a perfect baby has been supported by the desire to give Rhett a purpose beyond his untimely death,” Hernandez said.
Although the family purchased the playground with personal funds, the couple has worked diligently to honor Rhett’s memory with the launch of a non-profit organization to assist other families experiencing sudden infant loss.
Hernandez said Rhett’s mother, Tyler noted” “Upon the loss of a young child, there is no part of your being that thinks about where to turn for financial or emotional support. Our family went into some kind of protection-mode, and at times a disbelief in our reality. It wasn’t until after Rhett’s funeral and burial that we understood the full impact of the tragedy in our daily lives, and the lack of organization around where to turn, or who to reach out to.”
Tyler was able to leave her productive corporate job to devote her full attention to the foundation.
“The financial impact to young families can be devastating, and the emotional toll is even worse. We felt the need to do something that would help in the most critical times.”
The foundation provides financial assistance for families by assisting with funeral or burial costs, counseling and grief support, as well as, connection to resources. Although the foundation is based out of Denton County, where the Sullivan family resides, funding is provided to other locations including Wilbarger County based upon review by the Board of Directors which Sarah, BGC Director, is a part of.
“With my nonprofit experience, it just made sense to be a part of something so special to not only honor the memory of my only nephew, but to also help families in need,” Hernandez said.
“Rhett’s legacy, and his memorable smile, that adorns the sign that overlooks the playground, will live on in our community for years to come,” Hernandez said. “It is our families’ hope that this playground provides the children of the Boys & Girls Club a small moment of joy and the same sweet smile that Rhett had that we remember so fondly.” Ryan Sullivan stated.
For more information on the foundation or ways to help, visit rhettsullivan.org