Benefit marks 10th year since Clawson alumnus’ passing

Jimmy Marvin’s memory lives through renewable scholarship fund

By: Chris Jackett | Royal Oak Review | Published February 27, 2013

Jimmy Marvin

CLAWSON — Nine years ago, the little city with a big heart lost one of its residents who echoed that municipal nickname.

After a battle with a rare form of bone cancer called Ewing’s sarcoma, Jimmy Marvin passed away Jan. 31, 2004, at age 19. Marvin’s right leg was amputated above the knee, leading to a full remission in 2000, but the cancer reappeared on the pleura of his lungs in 2003 and took his life soon after.

Fewer than two months later, his spirit lived on with the first Spring Into Life fundraiser to benefit a scholarship fund in his name for Clawson High School seniors. The 10th annual Spring Into Life will take place from 5:30 p.m.-1 a.m. March 2 at the United Food and Commercial Workers Hall, 876 Horace Brown Drive in Madison Heights.

“We wanted to keep his spirit alive by helping other kids,” said resident Cathy MacKillop, Marvin’s aunt. “It’s amazing the number of people that come out. It’s a great night. Everyone has a great time. There’s a lot of alumni and teachers who attend, some who don’t even teach anymore. It’s just benefiting so many more kids in the Clawson school district.”

Jimmy Marvin’s mother, Maggie Marvin, is the force behind the event, but it has been a family affair from the start, as her brother-in-law thought it up and the family has received plenty of help. Last year, 500-600 people attended. The participation drove the event to move from the 300-person-capacity Knights of Columbus Hall in Clawson to the 1,000-person-capacity UFCW Hall in Madison Heights several years ago.

“We hold it pretty much every March,” Maggie said. “We started off pretty simple food-wise. We’ve always had bands volunteer to play. We’ve added more food. It’s kind of like wedding food, I guess you would say. Last year, we raised about $30,000.”

That money was used to award eight scholarships of between $500-$1,000 to Clawson seniors.

“We’ve given away 72 (scholarships) since 2004,” Maggie said. “We’re looking for an average, middle-of-the-road student. Jimmy got cancer when he was 14 at the end of freshman year and his grades flipped.

“Ours is a five-year renewal scholarship where they send us a letter and their transcripts. It’s varying depending on how much the student needs and where they’re going to school.”

The youngest of four children, Jimmy passed away while in the early stages of coursework at Oakland Community College that was to help him become a first-grade teacher.

While in high school, Jimmy rejoined the football team his senior year and played with a prosthetic leg in fall 2001, earning the nickname “OLB,” which stood for more than the outside linebacker position he played and even led to a Rudy-like chant at his final football game.

“He participated as much as he could, or as much as they would let him,” Maggie said. “He was just a really great kid.”

Many of those who rooted for Jimmy Marvin use the fundraiser as a reunion setting, enjoying dinner, drinks at an open bar, a silent auction, raffles and live music from Auburn Hills-based Threshold and Berkley-based The Aaron Vaughn Band, both of which cover popular rock songs from the past few decades. Patrons will also get a chance to win up to $1,000 while playing “Deal or No Deal” at the gathering.

“Threshold’s been with us for several years,” Maggie said, noting that The Aaron Vaughn Band will join the festivities for the first time. “We’re always looking for new things. We also honor other kids who passed away young. It’s a community event. We get so many people from Clawson, and Clawson grads host sort of mini-reunions.”

For more information on the March 2 event, which costs $25 per ticket, visit or email Maggie.Marvin@clawson.k12. Tickets can be reserved in advance, but will be available at the door.