Ryan Shaw

Donor hero’s family spreads the love

Carol McCloud said knowing that her son Ryan Shaw saved four lives through organ donation – and being able to spread his story through their organization – has helped her and her family get through the 20-year-old’s sudden death.

While the family didn’t know much about donation at the time, they knew Ryan would want to help others. After Ryan became a donor hero in 2014, Carol began volunteering with the Gift of Life Donor Program and Howie’s House, a home away from home for transplant recipients and their families where they receive discounted and free lodging, meals and necessities before and after surgeries. Carol then started a team for Gift of Life’s Annual Donor Dash called Ryan’s Shamrocks, in honor of her son.

On top of these activities, the family also decided to do a food drive for Howie’s House on the first anniversary of Ryan’s passing and have made the collection an annual tradition.

The family fills its entire minivan with food and other household supplies for Howie’s House guests, gathering contributions from friends, relatives and local businesses. Carol and her family also volunteer as Home Cook Heroes on or around Ryan’s birthday to provide guests with a home-cooked meal.

“Being able to help others the way people helped my son is important to me,” she said. “Volunteering and spending time at the Howie’s House allows me to see first-hand what they do for families and allows me to celebrate my son and spread his story.”