HERMON – As Garrett Mullen looked outside from the atrium of Hermon High School, he saw a crowd of people filing towards a donation box bearing his name.
“This is ridiculous,” he said Monday night. “There’s so many people here. I’m just a regular kid, but there’s something special about me I guess.”
There is something special about him, and the Hermon community recognized it Monday. Mullen is on the rebound from a two-week stay in the hospital, where he battled an intense case of pneumonia that put his health in serious jeopardy. The Darling’s Ice Cream for a Cause truck was on hand at the school, handing out free ice cream in exchange for donations on his behalf.
“Every day he’s getting better. He’s a strong kid,” Mullen’s football coach, Kyle Gallant, said. “So he’s going to fight through each and every day, he’s just going to get better.”
Mullen underwent several procedures throughout the process in order to alleviate the fluid buildup in his body, and Gallant was there from the start at his side. The senior felt his presence was a major factor in lifting his spirits during his battle and ensuing recovery.
“Coach Gallant, he’s huge in my eyes. He just does everything for me. So just him stepping up and being there on my surgery day, after that, before surgery, he’s really special to me,” he said.
And his coach feels the appreciation is mutual.
“I’ve coached a lot of kids in my day of coaching football, and I truly enjoy Garrett,” Gallant said. “You don’t come across him every day.”
Gallant was one of several hundred who came out to donate towards Mullen’s medical costs, and enjoyed ice cream even in the rain. He said it was of little surprise to see the support from the Hermon faithful.
“This just goes to show no matter how much we come together as a community. No matter what it’s about. It’s for everyone and anyone. This is the best community ever.”
And now Mullen, hoping to graduate with the rest of his friends later this month, fights to recover to full strength. As he does, he feels grateful for those who believe in him.
“This proves that if you have any impact on a town or a community and something happens to you like what happened to me, they’ll come back and pat you on the back, and they’ll be great for you again,” he said. “Because all I did was play football, and they thought that was something crazy special, and I’m in the hospital for two weeks, and I get thousands of people.”