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Heroes on Foot: Running for Jordan Rescued me

This blog post kicks off stories of Dash for Donation Heroes on Foot. The story features the personal journey that led Tyler Ross to run and win the 5K Dash for Donation race for the first time in 2011. A true Hero on Foot, Tyler has participated in Dash for Donation events since and encourages people to register as organ, eye and tissue donors in his community.

Written and released in three sections, Tyler will share parts of his story April 1, May 1 and June 1, 2013 on our blog in the months leading up to the 2013 Dash for Donation on July 13. Read on for the second part of Tyler’s story:

Part One

When I was a freshman in high school, I made the varsity cross-country team. While naturally talented, I hated running. I didn’t know at the time my new neighbors, two cool, older boys and our strong friendship would give me a reason to run.

The new boys across the street invited me to hang out that year, and instantly I felt like part of their group. From that point on, I was with them all the time. Jordan was the younger of the two and I naturally gravitated toward him. Jordan took me under his wing and was the big brother I never had.  Students in school began to think we were brothers, so we went along with it. Jordan took me to school every day, picked me up from practices and we hung out every weekend. I felt so cool to be allowed in the same car with him, let alone be someone he called his brother.

Running, however, was not going as smoothly as my building friendship with Jordan. I did everything in my power to not run at practice. I’d hide with friends when my coach would tell me to run, behavior present not just in running but in all aspects of my life. I carelessly went through the motions of life.

Unfortunately, it took a tragic phone call to change my careless attitude.

Part Two

It was Sunday morning, way too early. The frantic sound of my dad’s voice told me to get up because Jordan had gotten into an accident. I got up and walked outside but thought he’s got a broken bone maybe, some bumps and bruises, no big deal. The awkward hug my mom and dad gave me made me uncomfortable. My parents said Jordan was in a bad accident. He hit his head and was in the hospital. I sat in the back of the car speechless, not knowing what to think, do, say or act. At the hospital, I couldn’t immediately gather the courage to go see Jordan, so I sat in a corner of the room thinking with my head down. There is no way this is supposed to happen, I thought, he’s going to be fine; he’s my brother. Thankfully, Jordan gave me strength to get up out of my chair and be with him during his last moments.

Tyler with the Cannon family.

Jordan died that day and gave the greatest gift of life: he was an organ, eye and tissue donor.

The next 24 hours were very strange. Jordan’s absence left me feeling bare and empty inside. I went to a school gathering for Jordan with about 200 people in attendance but I didn’t understand how people were crying and sad when they didn’t even know Jordan. If they are feeling this, I thought, what should I be feeling? I didn’t know the answer. Stepping out of the car on the way home, I broke down in a wave of emotion. I quickly composed myself because I was so scared to let my friends and family see me vulnerable. That day, I knew I couldn’t hold everything in.

Running came to my rescue.

Stay tuned for the third part of Tyler’s Heroes on Foot journey, posted June 1. Want to be a hero of donation? Register now as an organ, eye and tissue donor.

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