Michael James Dunleavy
April 9, 1994 - October 28, 2002
Born in the spring of 1994 Michael James Dunleavy, was the second son born in the family. He and his older brother John, were followed by two sisters, Laura and Lucy, and finally his younger brother Brian. There was never a dull moment around the Dunleavy home nor any shortage of playmates. In the early Spring of 2002 Michael was diagnosed with a rare form of brain tumor. The only outward sign that anything was wrong was a sudden change in his vision and a tendency to look sideways rather than straight on. The news was devastating and the prognosis grim. Doctors held little hope and placed chances for survival beyond 16 weeks very low. Because of its proximity to the brain the tumor made treatment very difficult. The tumor could not be removed and an aggressive chemo and radiation therapy approach was pursued.
Before the illness Michael was both energetic and outgoing. As an active boy his involvement in sports activities provided a tremendous outlet for his physical well being. He also developed a strong passion for Karate that demanded both a strong body and a well disciplined mind. Michael worked very hard at achieving each successive level even throughout his illness and was awarded his Black Belt shortly before his passing in the late fall of 2002.
His early school years were spent at his mother Toni's school in a near-by town north of Boston. Their daily commutes to and from the Tara Montessori School were a treat for Michael as he quickly memorized the routes and gave perfect directions to Mom. Michael thrived in the Montessori environment and developed strong interpersonal skills and motivation. During his illness he never missed a day at the Vinson Owen School where he attended third grade. (read an open letter from Michael's third grade teacher) And in spite of constant treatments and their adverse effects, insisted on doing his homework every day.
Michael enjoyed the things all boys enjoyed. He liked soccer, baseball, football and hockey and was particularity fond of the Red Sox and the Patriots. But he also loved reading & poetry (some of his work is displayed on this page) as well as story telling, playing with computers, boating and fishing. Michael often displayed his wonderful sense of humor sometimes at his Dad's expense. On several occasions he remarked that he was a much better boat driver than his Dad, because he had never crashed into anything (video clip).
He was also a very bright boy who, after discovering the benefits of compound interest, was well on his way to becoming a financially secure adult. He was so impressed with this concept he called it "the most powerful force in the universe".
Michael loved to win. All the better if the winning included money, but the end result had to be the same. One of his favorite summer past times was miniature golf in Maine where every hole-in-one netted him a cash prize. And he was generous with his winnings as well. On a short visit to a local amusement park he amassed a very high number of tickets. When it came time to turn them in he carefully selected prizes for the entire family carrying them proudly in a large paper sack.
Throughout his illness Michael had a tremendous amount of support from hisparents and in turn gave them the courage to see him through. And like most boys, Michael had a special bond with his mother, Toni. During a number of conversations he expressed concern for not only his brothers and sisters, but for other children who may become ill. While on vacation at the family summer home in Maine, he organized a "Lemonade Stand" (video clip) enlisting the help of his brothers, sisters and some friends. When asked what he was going to do with the money they earned Michael replied, "give it to charity to help fight cancer."
To that end, the Michael J. Dunleavy Foundation was formed in memory of this vibrant and courageous 8 year old, who inspired so many of us by his feelings and caring for others.