The Story of Michigan From the Heart
The vision of Michigan From The Heart first came to Ed and Leann Boullion by way of great misfortune. Their daughter Channon was diagnosed with cancer in 1991 and received care at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. Thankfully Channon’s cancer has been in remission for several years. In fact, she has earned a degree in flight aviation and has begun her career as a pilot.
But for many young people facing illness or injury, happy endings often seem out of reach. The Boullions, and friend Tom Bloom, realized the significance of the visits from University of Michigan student-athletes to the halls of Mott Hospital.
As a result, Michigan From The Heart was formed to offer friendship and a little cheer to critically injured and ailing children.
Nearly a decade later Michigan From The Heart is more dynamic than ever. The Boullion family continue to be the driving force behind the organization and its simple yet critical mission: to improve the quality of life for the young patients at C.S. Mott Hospital.
From the beginning, U of M superstars like Desmond Howard (Super Bowl MVP), Brian Griese (Denver Broncos quarterback), and many women’s and men’s athletic teams have been ushered down the halls of Mott’s to brighten the days of some very ill children.
Each year, a growing number of student-athletes, coaches, and other student volunteers learn the value of helping those who are less fortunate. They bring joy to those who most need it in their lives. The benefits of these hospital visits are twofold; young patients often meet a role model and make a new friend, and the student-athletes witness firsthand the advantages of giving back to the community.
Through donations and various fundraisers, Michigan From The Heart has been able to help ease the pain of the young patients and their families. and support the family and children throughout their stay at Mott. Lasting friendships are often formed because of this one-on-one contact.
Michigan from the Heart was started from the simple concept that smiles lighten burdens, inspire hopes, and keep people grounded. Our mission is something far greater than just a way to help people get through a challenging run – it is a powerful system that significantly improves community relations. It’s an influential act of humanity.
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58 Years Filled With Love
On July 24, 2013, Leann Boullion, one of the founders of Michigan From the Heart passed away at age 58.
They were certainly 58 years filled with love, devotion and dedication to making the world a better place. She will be greatly missed by her husband Ed and daughter Channon but in addition the thousands (yes thousands) of people whose lives she touched.
Leann was really the queen, the matriarch and the heart and soul of Michigan From the Heart.
“Do you know Leann Boullion?”
I can’t tell you how many times when someone recognized me being associated with the organization they would immediately inquire, “Do you know Leann Boullion?” Which was then always followed by a tale of Leann’s involvement with their family beyond just the Thursday night visits.
From providing assistance, making extra visits, bringing gifts or games, reading to kids, it was always something to help a family get through a hard time.
Not every story has a happy ending
Something we rarely talk about is that, unfortunately, not every story at Mott has a happy ending. There is often pain, anxiety and sometimes loss. Professionals will advise in these type settings not to make emotional attachments. But Leann could never do that, and those losses hurt her deeply.
I think that defined Leann more than anything else. She loved these families and children and often would have to fight off depression to begin revisiting the hospital again.
It was never about photo opportunities or publicity with Leann, it was about caring for people going through a difficult time. Some might say this attachment was unprofessional. I would call it admirable. Her efforts were truly valiant and pure.
What would the world be like if we were all like Leann?
Leann will be missed but she will never be gone. Her spirit will inspire us to continue our work at Michigan From the Heart, assisting families in need at Mott and helping our Michigan student-athletes grow and mature.
But I think as with most great people we have an opportunity to meet in our lives, we will try to be a little bit more like them. Unselfish, giving and caring for others. What would the world be like if we were all like Leann?
In her honor, let’s try.