Heroes on Foot: The Cheetah that Left his Footprint Behind
By: Megan Lynch
I remember the first time I saw Ian. He was five years old with curly blonde hair, a mini version of his father. Ian and his dad were passing me in the hallway at our workplace. Ian looked at me with big blue-green eyes and then, in a flash, ran to catch up with his dad.
Ian’s dad and I married in 2006 and even with Ian’s asthma, I would learn that running was a constant theme in his life.
Eight years later, after a horrific electrical accident while on vacation in Virginia, Ian was pronounced brain dead at the hospital. Ian’s dad told me he wanted to donate Ian’s organs. The strength of mind Ian’s father had in that moment to pass hope on to others in need while his heart was torn to pieces is something I am still in awe of to this day. On July 23, 2010, Ian became an organ and tissue donor.
After Ian’s memorial service here in Ohio, his aunt mentioned perhaps organizing a 5K in Ian’s memory to honor the inner “cheetah” athleticism Ian showed. Many expressed interest but as a stepmom I felt the task was too daunting for us. Less than a year later, it was someone at work who brought the idea alive by passing along a flyer to me about the Dash for Donation. A perfect fit, I showed the flyer to Ian’s dad and we agreed to put together Team Cheetah to honor Ian’s love and success of being active. To us, the countless people who registered for our team were like people repeatedly saying, “I remember Ian.”
The Dash for Donation was clearly more than just a race. It was humbling to see how many lives could be touched by one person. As I hung a homemade collage of Ian with photos of him running and memorable quotes for the Dash’s Wall of Remembrance, I passed other posters. I passed other families who were like us. I saw people who had received organ and tissue transplants or knew someone who had. People who were waiting, people who’s loved ones were waiting. I stepped outside of our own grief and saw the hope of others. We were all at the Dash to honor and respect. We were all there to celebrate life.
Up until the Dash for Donation in 2012, I was not a registered organ donor. After the Dash, I immediately registered because seeing recipients’ lives changed by donation, it was impossible to ignore the importance of the gift of life. Ian is not here with us but there are many people who are here because of Ian. Through the Dash for Donation, Ian’s legacy lives on and we recognize him as the hero he continues to be. Ian is one of the largest influences on my life – he helped me realize we are all in this together and we can have an effect while we are here and even after we are gone. The Dash for Donation allowed us to run on “Cheetah Strong.”
May is National Electrical Safety Month. For the sake of your loved ones inspect and replace any old or damaged cords with new ones. Never tape or repair them yourselves.