As many of you know, January was a rough month for my family. My brother underwent unexpected open heart surgery to repair a leaking valve. He was born with a heart condition, and has had two surgeries to fix it in the past. But this third surgery was very unexpected. That same day, my first rep, Sue Ross, passed away from a heart attack. I wanted to share this letter that my brother wrote. He writes for the Butler Collegian at Butler University, and he has a way with words:
On Behalf of the Beery Family, Larry Cimino, Susan Chappell Ross, her families and friends:
My name is Kyle Beery, Iʼm a 22-year-old from Saugatuck, Michigan . I am currently a junior at Butler University in Indianapolis, recently recovering from an open-heart surgery in January of this year.
This most recent, and unexpected surgery was my third (and hopefully last).
It was my second open heart surgery in three years to replace my pulmonary valve.
My familyʼs dear friend Sue Ross died of a heart attack on January 16 , 2014, the very same day I had my open heart surgery – and it hit all of us who knew her pretty hard. Sue had her own company, Sue Ross Sales. She represented well over 200 lines of merchandise that you see in our local stores. We were in Indianapolis when
we heard about Sueʼs death, and it was very hard on us because the weather made it impossible for my parents to drive back to Saugatuck. With friends and family all over the country, like us, many of them were unable to make it to her funeral because of the awful winter storms we had. Just days before her death Sue and her husband Larry Cimino had been so gracious to put my parents in a hotel for a few nights using rewards points. My parents had been sleeping in chairs at the hospital for several days prior to my surgery.
That just speaks volumes about the kind of person she was.
Ever since then, my family and I have been talking about holding a fundraiser in her honor. We’ve finally decided on holding a good old-fashioned “cake walk” at Beery Field in Douglas on Sunday Sept.14. Along with several other little games and goodies, we will be giving away cakes, baked goods and many prizes.
We will be donating 100% of funds raised to the Wes Leonard Heart Team in Sueʼs memory. If you were unaware, Wes Leonard was a high school basketball and football standout at Fennville High School. He hit a game- winning shot on March 3, 2011 to seal a perfect 20-0 season for the Blackhawks and then collapsed and died from an enlarged heart. This was only about a year removed from my most recent heart surgery at the time.
I was in attendance at the game, and this hit me pretty hard; it changed my outlook on life entirely.
The WLHT is led by Wesʼs mother Jocelyn, she and many volunteers travel around the state raising awareness about Sudden Cardiac Arrest, with an emphasis on young athletes. The heart team raises money to purchase Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) for high schools. One of these devices could have been used to save Wes the night he died. Each of these devices cost $1,320.00. I’m proud to say that my fraternity house Lambda Chi Alpha at Butler University has an AED, and I firmly believe it’s something that all schools and organizations should have. One was used on me in January when I had a Ventricular tachycardia on January 12, and it literally saved my life. In addition to a brand new Bovine valve, I now have an Implanted Cardioverter Defibrillator inside of me. The WLHT also helps educate and train individuals in CPR in effort to help save as many lives as possible until medical help can get to the scene of the emergency. To check out more about the WLHT, and the wonderful things they are doing please visit
I am writing you to see if you might be willing to open your heart and make a donation to the WLHT or donate goods/ services etc to be given away as prizes at our event. Any contribution , no matter how big or small would be greatly appreciated. We would also like to personally invite you to celebrate with us on September 14 at 12:00 p.m. at Beery Field . As previously mentioned, many friends, family and business associates of Sue were unable to attend her memorial service. We are helping to create this opportunity for all that knew and loved her and those who never got a chance to, to come together and help celebrate a wonderful woman, knowing that she would have been thrilled to be part of this worthwhile cause in helping to save lives .
We have all been or will be affected by Heart Disease in some way..
Together, we can all make a difference. Our helping hands can keep hearts beating.
Thank you…from the bottom of our hearts.
You can join the Susan Chappell Ross Cake Walk Facebook Page by clicking the link.
Polka Dot Mitten will be donating a portion of its proceeds monthly to the Wes Leonard Heart Team.