Kevin – A Child from Pennsylvania

Kevin Joseph Garvey, our namesake, was born June 5, 1958 to Cyril & Claudia Garvey of Sharon, Pennsylvania and was the seventh of eight children. This portrait of Kevin hangs in our offices at the main house and greets every guest who enters our doors. His siblings include, Mary, John, Tom, Denis, Annette, Hugh and Margaret who was his younger sister that he shared a room with.

Kevin was an extraordinary boy but also an every day kid who enjoyed the simple things in life. His family spent summers at a lake house in Pymatuning Lake, PA where he learned to swim, Kevin was casted as Peter Pan in his Kindergarten play at S.H. Hadley School, he enjoyed the handmade costumes his mom Claudia made for them all each Halloween, Kevin played pool with his dad and often would lose on purpose to make his dad happy, he attended summer camp at Camp Notre Dame and often wrote postcards to his family at home, he played a musical instrument in 6th grade and he loved baseball. Kevin was given the nickname “heart” by his family after a trip to Niagara Falls in 1966 when the family realized the left Kevin behind only a few blocks from the hotel. They found him sitting quietly alone in the room, grasping at his chest and simply said as the family returned, Oh My Heart”. This nickname stuck with him even with his nurses, doctors and medical team at Roswell Park during his 18 month battle with leukemia at the age of 13. Kevin was much like many young boys and had a deep love for his family.

Cyril said of him “A most simple child, the most straightforward, and willing to trust in God’s providence. ” The family travelled to Lourdes, France with Kevin to pray for a miracle during his treatment and Cy said “Never to have known such a faith and such a trust in a child or for that matter, in an adult”.

During his treatment, Kevin’s parents noticed other families sleeping in their cars and waiting rooms and decided to work with Roswell Park to create the most memorable tribute to their son they could possibly do. While Kevin was able to see the house purchased by his parents, Kevin succumbed to his illness before he could see it open. Founded in 1972 by Cyril & Claudia Garvey  in honor of their son Kevin who sadly lost his battle with leukemia, KGH is the inspiration for the first Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia, PA and more than 600 similar houses across the country and worldwide. Our logo will always include a “heart” in his honor and reflected in the majority of healthcare hospitality homes across the world.

Even at such a young age, there was a real sensitivity and spirit of love, compassion and giving that made Kevin such a unique little boy. — brother Denis.

One of the greatest treasures I think for me, if not the greatest treasure and lasting treasure of Kevin’s life, was his humility. I never recall him complaining about his suffering, fretting about the future, or rejecting his illness. — sister Annette.

How ironic it was that when he got sick and went to Roswell for treatment, he endured the most painful procedures — bone marrow treatments, ice baths, constant shots and blood tests — without complaint.  We never would have imagined that the timid little boy he was would be an example of bravery to all of us. — brother John.

Heaven exists. There is another life beyond what we can see. It is already here, it has always been, and it will never end. So when Kevin’s hair fell out, and he became thin and weak, he told me he was not afraid. He knew he was about go there. He knew he would still somehow be with us. And he knew he would meet us there. — sister Margaret.

My parents last trip together with brother Kevin was to Lourdes, France, where Kevin, upon leaving the bath waters said, “Well, I got what I need.”  Dad said we are praying for a miracle.  Kevin responded … “You know Dad, you can’t always see miracles.”

Shortly after this trip Kevin died, and who says you can’t see miracles … America’s First Hospitality House … Kevin Guest House opened our doors six months later in July, 1972! — brother Tom.

Kevin was only with us here on Earth for 13 short years but he has left a good and kind and everlasting footprint on our world. — brother Hugh.

Kevin’s house is filled with his spirit.  It shines through all of you who open his doors to all those in need.  May God continue to bless you and all those who keep Kevin’s memory alive. — sister Mary.

You can read more from Kevin’s siblings (pictured here with him) on their memories with their brother on what would’ve been his 62nd birthday:

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