DRACUT -- In a much-loved scene from the movie It's a Wonderful Life, friends turn out in droves with funds for George Bailey during his time of need. They do so because Bailey lived his entire life giving, caring and sacrificing for others. It was his payback for being good.
A similar scene took place at St. Francis Church in Dracut on Thursday as friends of Donna (Doyle) Sullivan and her family turned out in droves for "A Taste of Chocolate." Like the fictional Bailey, Sullivan, a Dracut resident and former nurse at Saints Medical Center and a victim of an aggressive form of breast cancer, has lived her life caring and sacrificing for others.
The large turnout -- including many who did not know Sullivan but were moved by her story in The Sun -- wrapped the family in a circle of support and raised more than $26,000.
Along with online and mail-in donations to the fund, the fund exceeds $30,000, which will help defray mounting medical expenses, not all covered by insurance.
"It was very touching for all of us to see such an outpouring of kindness and generosity by her family and friends," said Diana (Doyle) Glasheen, Sullivan's sister. "We are most grateful to all involved."
"There was a steady stream throughout the evening," said fundraising committee member Jackie Carr of Dracut. "I was most impressed with the generous spirit in the room and sincere willingness to help our wonderful friend and her family. There were numerous stories being told, heartfelt concern for the family, hugs, tears, and even laughter in the room."
Carr added that it was "good to see the family, especially her children, surrounded by people who came out to support them."
In It's a Wonderful Life, a rousing rendition of Auld Lang Syne is sung by Bailey's friends and family. That was clearly not part of Thursday's event; just the same, it was Sullivan's payback for being good.
Gift donations to the fund are ongoing: Donna (Doyle) Sullivan Family Fund, c/o Enterprise Bank, 1168 Lakeview Avenue, Dracut, MA.