- Editor’s Note: This article was written by Tim Wagner of the Fox Valley Park District.
In life, Dylan Richardson loved walking on his tippy toes. And eating the cream out of Double Stuf Oreos (before hiding the cookie part from mom). And batting around a baseball with his older brothers.
And Spider-Man. Oh, how the 7-year-old loved him some Spidey.
In death, Dylan continues to play the role of superhero.
“I don’t know where I’d be,” says Dylan’s father, Dan Richardson, “if it weren’t for the fact that Dylan would be able to save others.”
Because of their advocacy in promoting the importance of organ and tissue donation, Dan and Lisa Richardson on Friday, April 12, were honored — and Dylan memorialized — by Gift of Hope, a not-for-profit organ procurement organization that coordinates organ and tissue donation and provides public education on donation in Illinois and northwest Indiana.
On this cool and breezy morning, the Richardsons unveiled a cloth from a playground bench at the Fox Valley Park District’s Harmony Pointe Park, a landmark that will forever be dedicated to Dylan.
The bench’s wooden slats read:
A LIFE THAT TOUCHES OTHERS, LIVES ON FOREVER
WHO GAVE THE GIFT OF HOPE THROUGH ORGAN DONATION
In July of 2007, Dylan and his mom were involved in a traffic accident, shortly after Dylan completed his day of summer camp at Vaughan Athletic Center — a place he loved to romp and play. Two days later, suffering from irreversible brain damage, Dylan was removed from life support.
“Nothing prepares you for having to say goodbye to your 7-year-old child,” Dan Richardson said.
But, in death, the Richardsons have also said plenty of hellos — a meet-n-greet, if you will, arranged by Dylan, himself.
Through Gift of Hope, Dan and Lisa Richardson agreed to have Dylan’s organs and tissue donated and, in turn, three organ recipients were granted an extension to their lives: Dylan’s heart to a 13-year-old North Carolina girl; his liver to a 15-year-old boy from the United Arab Emirates; and both kidneys to a 74-year-old Kansas man.
“I often wonder if the 74-year-old ever walks around on his tippy toes,” Dan Richardson told a group assembled at the ceremony, which included Dylan’s family members; first responders from the Aurora Fire Department; Aurora 5th Ward Alderman Carl Franco; and officials from the Fox Valley Park District, Gift of Hope and the Fox Valley Park Foundation, which served as a liaison between the family and Gift of Hope to make the dedication possible.
Harmony Pointe Park sits at the north end of the Vaughan Center, where Dylan last played with his friends and fellow campers.
“We are blessed to have had Dylan Richardson attend our programs here and share his enthusiasm and love of life with us,” Rachel Ossyra, director of development for the Park Foundation, told the crowd. “We are so glad we could be a happy place, where fun begins for Dylan, and that we can honor his memory and his gift of hope with this memorial bench in this special playground.”
The Park District has several opportunities through which to leave a lasting legacy. For more information, visit the foundation website at https://www.