By Reid Forgrave
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Sunday, Yolanda Sullivan buried her only son, Michael Sullivan, a 19-year-old Miami Township man who died in a motorcycle accident on the Fourth of July weekend.
About 70 of her son's Sigma Chi fraternity brothers attended the services, and each dropped a white rose into Sullivan's coffin, a fraternity ceremony that inducts the spring pledge into "chapter eternal."
After the service, Ben Hines, president of the University of Cincinnati fraternity chapter, went up to Sullivan in the kitchen of her home. The fraternity brothers cooked at the reception and cleaned up after everyone.
"You've lost a son, and we've lost a brother," Hines told her. "But now you have hundreds of sons."
Then he told her the fraternity planned to start a scholarship in her son's name for new members.
For Sullivan, who lost her husband two years ago, it was more than a gesture. It solidified her pride in her son's fraternity, which Michael Sullivan told her was full of "men of faith."
Now she plans to have her company and her late husband's company join local Sigma Chi alumni in donating money to the Michael Gene Sullivan Scholarship Fund.
Sullivan, known to some as "Silky," the same nickname as his father, played football, baseball and track for Elder High School on Cincinnati's West Side for three years, starring as outside linebacker for the Elder football team that won the district championship.
But one of his mother's proudest accomplishments was his pledging the Sigma Chi fraternity, the same fraternity his father had joined.
"I can't even begin to tell you how much the boys at Sigma Chi have supported me through all this," Sullivan said.
"Every single one of these boys, when I talk with them, I see a piece of my son. I hear things my son would say."
Sullivan will be a member of the selection committee for the scholarship, and she wants to choose people who remind her of her son.
The fraternity plans to give six $500 scholarships next year.
To donate, send a check, made out to Sigma Chi, to:Michael Gene Sullivan Scholarship Fund, Attn: Ben Hines, 2617 University Court, Cincinnati, OH 45219
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