Great Path Academy’s Benett Sullivan- Tap-Dancing with the Stars for a Good Cause
SPOTLIGHT on EXCELLENCE October 2014
Benett Sullivan- Tap-Dancing with the Stars for a Good Cause
Benett Sullivan is a young man who attends Great Path Academy. He is a normal student by day and does not portray any hint of his past struggles. Benett participates heartily in the Great Path Academy school community and is a well-known and well-rounded student. He is an Anti-Defamation League Ally, a Student Ambassador, a member of Great Path Academy’s Improv Comedy Club and finds time to be an honor roll student.
Benett also has a passion. Benett has been in remission from acute lymphoblastic leukemia for nine years. He attended a camp for young men and women such as himself. According to the camp’s website, “In 1988, Paul Newman opened The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Connecticut so that children coping with serious illnesses could have a special hideout where they could simply be kids. The Camp, which served 288 campers its first year, has 25,000 children and family members now experiencing “a different kind of healing” annually. Each year, 2,500 are served onsite and 20,000 visits by the Hospital Outreach Program bring the fun and friendship of Camp into more than 25 sites throughout the Northeast – all free of charge.”
He participated in The Fandango Gala Fundraiser for the “Hole in the Wall” Gang Camp. The Fandango Gala is an event that was held in Ashford, CT, with the purpose of raising funds for this wonderful camp. Celebrities, such as Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock, Stephen Colbert and Bridget Moynahan are all individuals who have donated and attend this Gala. “Bridget Moynahan was in the second row, smiling right at me!” Benett recalled. The newest addition to the Camp Board as a member, joining Alec Baldwin, is Bradley Cooper. “’Today, as the very first campers of the summer arrive at The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for a healing week of fun and friendship, their excitement is matched by our own as we share the wonderful news that Bradley Cooper has joined our Board of Directors,’ said Board Chair Ray Lamontagne. ‘The fact that Bradley spent a week in the cabins as a volunteer counselor gives him a wonderful insight into what The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp calls ‘a different kind of healing,’ and his longtime friendship to the organization is a beautifully fitting testament to Paul Newman’s enduring legacy.’” (http://www.holeinthewallgang.org/document.doc?id=617).
Benett’s performance was rehearsed for days with Broadway performers, such as Mary Mitchell, who was performing in Peter Pan in Boston. His tap dancing performance was alongside Christopher Walken and he also got to perform on stage with the Broadway performers. In his opinion, Christopher Walken is “a great tap dancer.” Benett went on to describe him, “He is soft-spoken and really mellow. It was incredible to dance with him. It was a cool experience because he was a celebrity but he was right there on stage with us.”
Participating in the gala helped with Benett’s experience performing and it was an experience of growth being chosen to perform with famous people for such a good cause. “I think a couple million was raised at the Gala, being a part of that good felt satisfying because they’ve done so much for me throughout the years, being at camp was a get-away, a vacation from my illness, and I got to help other peoples’ experiences at camp be as great as they should be.” Benett has learned much from his overall experience with his illness, his recovery, his time at camp and now being a part of fundraising for other sick kids to attend the camp. “I’ve learned that nothing can tie you down, as long as you fight the good fight and know that people are always there for you, you will always prevail.”
This mentality of helping others has influenced Benett to be a positive piece of the Great Path Academy community. He feels obligated to help other Great Path Academy students feel comfortable and at home and to help others. Benett’s story of overcoming obstacles is one that he will carry with him his whole life, as he helps others to support each other.
For more information on the Hole in the Wall Gang please visit www.holeinthewallgang.org or contact Great Path Academy at (860) 512-3700 to find out information from Benett.