College fundraiser planned for local hero, track star Sean English

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Sean English sits with his teammates before the final race of his high-school career, in May.

Sean English was supposed to be receiving a track-and-field scholarship to Purdue.

That all changed on the morning of April 2, 2017, when English and parents, Sean Sr. and Peggy, on their way to Mass, spotted an overturned car on eastbound Interstate-96 near the Davison Freeway in Detroit and stopped to assist. Moments later, another driver came around a curve and struck Sean and another woman. The woman died, while English lost his right leg.

English, who went to high school at U-D Jesuit, still will be attending Purdue this fall, but now he must pay his own way. So the Metro Detroit community is rallying together to ease the burden, with a fundraiser scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 11, from 3 to 8 p.m., at the Ferndale Elks Lodge, 22856 Woodward Ave.

All proceeds will go toward English's college, where he plans to major in media and communications.

Event organizers are requesting a donation be made for admission. There also will be 50-50 drawings and raffle baskets donated by area business, sports teams and individuals. Lions Pro Bowl guard T.J. Lang is among the area sports stars donating autographed items.

Anyone interested in donating for the fundraiser can contact Michelle Collick at (248) 837-9836 or Gretchen Benson at (248) 506-2646, or check out the event's Facebook page.

Sean English hugs his mother, Peggy, following the final race of his high-school career.

Following the accident, English endured 10 surgeries and 13 months of seven-day-a-week physical therapy. He was fitted with a prosthesis — which allowed him to run one more high-school race, in early May. In front of dozens of teary-eyed family members, friends and classmates, he finished last in the standings, but first in life.

"I said I was going to finish, and I did," English told The News, after finishing the 400-meter dash. "I'm in a lot of pain, but it's the best pain I ever felt."

English's father ran track at Purdue, and competed in Olympic trials. It long had been Sean Jr.'s dream to follow his dad's path, all the way to West Lafayette, Ind. He has been running competitively since he was in kindergarten, eventually became captain of U-D Jesuit's cross-country and track-and-field teams, and as a sophomore ran a 4-minute, 29-second mile. He had hoped to break the school record in the coming two years, and probably would've had, had April 2, 2017, not happened.

During that final race in May, English, 18, wore his father's old high-school jersey.

English now has aspirations to one day compete in the Paralympics.

"I'm looking forward to the future," he told The News in May. "I keep hearing it's going to be bright."

Francis X. Donnelly contributed