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Marion, IL

Employees Donate Days Off to Help Co-worker's Son

Employees Donate Days Off to Help Co-worker's Son
By: Carly O'Keefe

MARION, Ill. - Employees at the Williamson County Courthouse offer their time off to help an employee be with his sick son.

Debbie Jack is the office manager for the Williamson County State's Attorney's Office.  She's worked with Attorney Sean de Mello since 1993.  Years ago, she introduced de Mello to his wife.  When the couple became a family, Jack considered their baby, Evan, as her family too.

"Evan is a precious little boy, a beautiful little boy, he's so full of life," said Jack. 

That sense of family doesn't stop with Jack. It stretches into every office of the Williamson County Courthouse.

"We've lived and breathed this little boy since he was born," said Williamson County Circuit Clerk employee Carla Suits.

Three-year-old Evan underwent a heart transplant in June and since then, courthouse employees have been sure to stay in the know at all times.

"We have notices every day that are posted online, and we'll print them out and pass them around so everyone can know how he's doing that day," said Suits.

"There for a while they weren't sure he was going to make it.  One way or the other, I think they almost lost him two or three times," said Jack.

Courthouse employees know through the ups and downs following the risky transplant, their longtime co-worker, Evan's dad, needs not only their support, but time off work to be with his son. So, dozens of them have donated their sick and vacation days to pay for that time.

"If he needs them, I'm happy to give them to him because I know Sean and I know he'd do it for me," said Assistant State's Attorney Michael Ruffley.

In addition to donating vacation and sick days, attorneys like Ruffley are taking on extra work to fill in for de Mello while he's away.  It's all in hopes of helping de Mello focus on getting Evan better, instead of what needs to be done in the office.

"It's very important that (Evan) stays healthy and that he's able to grow up," said Ruffley.

There is a benefit concert planned for August 18 at 7 p.m. at the Marion Civic Center to raise money to pay Evan's medical bills.

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