Vintage Tractor Donation Spreads ‘Message of Hope’ for Cancer Survivor

When Michael Sullivan was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia, he turned to Mayo Clinic for help.

After months of treatment, including a bone marrow transplant from a family member, Michael, a father of three from western Illinois, is now cancer-free. A partner in his family’s auctioneering business, Sullivan Auctioneers, Michael wanted to do something special to give back to Mayo Clinic. So, the Sullivan family did what they do best — they held an auction. 

Sullivan Auctioneers auctioned off a vintage John Deere tractor, ultimately raising nearly $500,000 for leukemia research at Mayo Clinic. 

The Sullivans aim to continue to spread the message of hope and healing that Michael found at Mayo Clinic. They also strive to raise awareness of the importance of bone marrow donation and encourage others to register as bone marrow and stem cell donors through Be the Match.

Michael is one of more than 5,500 people with leukemia that Mayo Clinic cares for each year. Mayo hematologists, hematopathologists, radiation oncologists and transplant specialists work together to create customized treatment plans for patients.

Half of adults with acute leukemia under age 60, like Michael, can now be cured.

New treatments include immunotherapies that activate the patient’s immune system to kill leukemia cells, such as CAR-T cell therapy, and antibodies that target leukemia cells with toxins. There are also new ways of identifying donors for bone marrow transplantation.

“We can do something for everyone who has leukemia,” says James Foran, M.D., chair of the Acute Leukemia and Myeloid Neoplasms Disease Group at Mayo Clinic Cancer Center. “Whether we cure it or not, we can have an impact on it in some positive way.”

Learn more about the Sullivan family's journey and the tractor auction by watching this episode of the “Machinery Pete TV Show.”

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Eds Note: The individual featured in images was following social distancing guidelines, and in compliance with Mayo Clinic’s COVID-19 safety guidelines while unmasked.


Stories of Hope
Stories of Hope
Stories of Hope