Fort Mill Times

Tega Cay community rallies around ‘Harlan the Hero’

For Jacki and Jonathan Sullins, natives of Fort Mill and Tega Cay now living in Catawba, the importance of family and community is realized daily as they rely on those around them in coping with the cancer of their 2-year-old son, Harlan.

“As a parent, you are suppose to make everything better,” Jacki says. “Typically a kiss and a hug does the trick, but when you have someone whom you've never met tell you your pride and joy, the answer to your wildest dreams, has a plum size brain tumor, your world comes crumbling down pretty fast.”

Harlan's tumor was discovered Feb. 7; Less than a week later he had surgery and by Feb. 18 he was diagnosed with a grade 2 ependymoma.

“I'd be a liar if I said coping [with Harlan’s disease] was a walk in the park,” he mom says. “It's anything but. If it wasn't for our families, friends, employers, and awesome community, we would not be where we are now. Prayer is an amazing thing.”

To pay for Harlan’s medical treatment, local businesses have pitched in to host fundraisers. Barnyard Celebrations, 3000 Old Farm Rd., Fort Mill, is holding a family event with pony rides, live music, a petting zoo, vendors and a bake sale, noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. Grapevine, a Baxter wine bar that also features craft beer, will host a charity night for Harlan at 5 p.m. on June 19.

The community is responding in a big way.

Captain Steve’s in Fort Mill recently hosted a barbecue sale in its parking lot and sold out of food early. Dr. Brian Biehl’s dental office, where Harlan’s mother works, also hosted a barbecue sale and sells Harlan T-shirts and bracelets. Harlan’s pediatrician and Birds of a Feather in Fort Mill also sell bracelets.

As the latest partner in Harlan’s journey, Grapevine, on Market Street, is continuing its tradition of philanthropy.

“The Grapevine hosts charity nights every Wednesday night throughout the year. As long as the check is made to an actual foundation or charity, and not a person, they will allow you to do charity night,” explains family friend Jamie Cooke of Fort Mill.

“Four friends of Harlan's family will go to The Grapevine at 4 p.m. the day of the event to be trained to be guest bartenders. Two of the regular Grapevine staff will also stay for the night. In order to make it fair for them, the first $150 made will be split between the two bartenders. After the first $150, every dollar that is given to tips we get to keep for Harlan. So while we need people to show up and drink, we also need them to tip big!”