Middle School teacher Matt Tully ’02 took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge this summer, along with many of you, hoping his small act would help raise awareness for a debilitating disease. He’s now launching a new effort in the Middle School to benefit kids – like his two year old niece Spencer – battling brain cancer.
Backstory: Tully attended Boston College just one year ahead of Pete Frates, the former BC baseball star and inspiration behind the viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. This summer, Tully, along with his BC friends and hundreds of thousands of others, poured icy buckets of water on their heads and posted videos on social networks for all to see. The challenge raised millions of dollars; but, there were the critics, many of them, who claimed the videos made no difference to those suffering from ALS. Still, Tully felt inspired.
“While monetary contributions can hopefully help advance science to prevent this suffering for others in the future, awareness and public support is equally important,” Tully said.
Now, Tully is asking for public support as his own family battles against a dangerous disease –brain cancer.
One year ago, doctors discovered a tumor about the size of a softball in the brain of Matt Tully’s niece, Spencer Grace Tully, the daughter of Chris Tully ’96. Although her initial surgery and chemotherapy treatments were largely successful in destroying the tumor, two weeks ago, they learned that the cancer has spread to her spine, and in the coming years she will receive chemotherapy and radiation treatments that will hopefully save her life.
Tully says he now knows these small acts of kindness, viral videos, and messages do make a difference.
“Until this experience, my family largely had neither experienced tragedy nor disease. For many years, I wore pink for National Denim Day, participated in 5Ks, and donated money, not because I understood the struggle, but because I had been taught to do so in my youth, like all of you,” Tully told Gilman Middle School students.
“Now, I better understand the importance of such efforts. Families like mine are held hostage by tragedy every day. At no moment in the day can we take a break from feeling sad, frustrated, and scared. Every kind word or event that I see supporting these struggling families brings tears to my eyes because someone is taking the time out of their busy lives to acknowledge another’s pain.”
In this spirt, Tully is launching the Spencer Grace Collection, a new book drive that will kick off later this month. With the help of the Student Council, he is starting a collection of new and gently used books for the John’s Hopkins Children’s Center, where Spencer is being treated. The books will be donated to Hopkins in the name of Spencer Grace Tully, “a gesture that provides support for her father, my brother Chris Tully, a fellow Gilman graduate and member of your community, as his daughter prayerfully wins this battle.”
- The Spencer Grace Collection will be started Monday, October 13, in the name of Spencer Grace Tully, daughter of Chris Tully, a Gilman graduate of the Class of 1996.
- We will be collecting children and young adult books, preferably new.
- Collected books will be donated to the John’s Hopkins Children’s Center.
- New books will be used in the library and children’s play rooms.
- Gently used books can be helpful for out-patient use.
Tully concluded by saying, “Your consideration with this drive will not cure this awful disease, and more families will need the services of John’s Hopkins, but your effort does matter…Life can present unpredictable burdens sometimes, but as a Gilman community, we can provide a light in the darkness.”
10/7/14 Update: The librarian at the John’s Hopkins Children’s Center provided a “wish list” for the Children’s and Family Resource Library. Check out the titles and authors here: Wish List (PDF)
1/28/15 Update: It is with great sadness that we share the news that Spencer Tully passed away on Friday, January 23, 2015. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Tully family.