For the last three years, the DCL 5K run/walk for organ and tissue donation and brain injury awareness has brought people together during the Moulton Jamboree to honor the memory and legacy of Dyllan Clay Lawson. The 19-year-old Moulton-Udell High School graduate and University of Iowa student passed away July 1, 2011 after a car accident in northern Missouri.
After his accident, Dyllan’s parents, Dennis and Carol Lawson, honored his wishes and donated his organs and tissue to others in need.
“It doesn’t really help, but it does,” said Dennis. “It’s hard to explain.”
His parents said that Dyllan had made his wishes to be an organ donor clear to them.
“We knew it,” said Dennis. “But you never really think about those things.”
In the end, Dyllan’s donation helped more than 100 people and one of his kidneys and his lungs even went to people that the Lawson family knew personally.
“We actually picked two people that received some of Dyllan’s organ,” said Dennis. “We knew two people. They both were in seven miles of our house.”
According to doctors, it was extremely unlikely that the two people the Lawson’s knew waiting for organs would be a match with Dyllan but after testing, both came back as matches and the organs were successfully transplanted.
In the aftermath of the accident, Dyllan’s siblings and their spouses, Clarissa and Kyle Prevo and Dustin and Kim Lawson, suggested doing something to honor their brother. Within just a few months, the DCL 5K run/walk for organ and tissue donation was put together, with the money raised going to the Iowa Donor Network. The family wanted to not only raise awareness and funds for the Iowa Donor Network, but also wanted to honor Dyllan’s personal donation as well as his life and memory. The first race was held Sept. 10, 2011 just two months after the accident.
The first event was a success, raising $6,000 for the Iowa Donor Network from nearly 500 people who either ran or simply donated to the cause. The second year was even more successful, raising around $6,500. The money is raised through race fees, T-shirt sales and donations. The shirts are designed by Dyllan’s sister-in-law, Kim. This year there will be both T-shirts and sweatshirts offered, once again designed by Kim.
“All the proceeds we take in go help somebody,” said Dennis.
The family donates the money raised each year on Dyllan’s birthday, Nov. 13.
“We don’t take back our own expenses,” said Carol. “It just all goes to help.”
The outpouring of support has shown the family how much Dyllan touched the lives of others during his life. His college roommate, Kevin Wolter, comes to the race every year with his parents and girlfriend.
“The first race his dad drove from Chicago, picked him up in Iowa CIty and drove straight to the race ..no sleep, no stopping,” said Dennis. “They drove all night to get to Moulton so they could be there to run the race.”
Just two months before Dyllan’s accident, he and Wolter completed their first 5K together.
“They said they were going to run it together,” said Carol. “Kevin had to stop and throw up so Dyllan waited for him or they would have done better. That’s just how he was. They were doing it together.”
The two ended up finishing in the top 20 out of more than 100 racers.
Besides the Iowa Donor Network, the family has also helped other local families suffering through hard times. The experience of losing Dyllan made them realize how much small gifts can help during difficult times.
““It makes you cry because you know what they’re going through,” said Carol. “We couldn’t do all this without everybody that helps in the community, so that’s why we try to keep as much as we can in the community.”
This year, the family is expanding the causes that will receive donations. They are also planning to sponsor an Iowa family on a trip to Island Dolphin Care in Florida. The program provides an experience swimming with dolphins to families that have children living with disabilities and illnesses.
“It is something for the whole family,” said Dennis. “We can kind of pick them…and it will be someone from Iowa.”
Dennis and Carol said the family is still learning how to cope with missing Dyllan. Since he passed away they have heard from many of his friends and people who knew him relating stories the family never knew about.
“We’ve gotten hundreds of cards from people telling us stories and things he’d done for them that we had no idea,” said Dennis. “He’s still helping people everyday by doing this.”
The family has also given out scholarships to Moulton-Udell seniors in honor of Dyllan. The money comes from cattle that Dyllan raised as well as memorials the family received after he passed away. The family hopes to continue this tradition and may even expand the amount of scholarships they give out in the future.
The say everything they are doing with the DCL foundation, the 5K and the scholarships is a learning experience and a worthwhile effort.
“I think just by us putting this on…people tell us they’ve never really thought about being a donor…they didn’t realize how many people in some cases it helps,” said Dennis. “It just brings a lot of awareness to the community.”
The third DCL 5K run/walk will be held tomorrow during the Moulton Jamboree. Learn more about the event by visiting www.facebook.com and searching for DCL Foundation.