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Donor Family Story: Emily Beyea

Emily Beyea was only 10 years old when she passed away. However, in that time she managed to spread a lifetime of love, caring, joy and silliness throughout her world. “She was a sassy, outspoken, beautiful, activist, who saw the world as it should be… and saw the best in people,” says her mom, Tyler.

Emily’s love for helping others made her family’s choice to donate her organs and eye tissue an obvious one.

From an early age, she found many causes to get involved with, from sea turtle care to national park conservation to polar bear protection. She was a regular volunteer at the nonprofit Tyler works for, which feeds children at risk for hunger. Emily even created an “adopt-a-thon” there where each child could “adopt” a stuffed animal — most of which were from her own collection.

She loved the sand and the sea, enjoying vacations with her mom, dad (Bill) and older brother (Billy) to Jockey’s Ridge in the Outer Banks. And she was always joking, making funny videos and talking with anyone she met. “She was the silliest person you would ever meet,” Tyler explains. “Emily just loved doing simple things. She brought so much brightness into the world.”

Although an undiagnosed food allergy took her life, Emily lives on in many ways through the immeasurable amount of compassion, happiness and generosity she inspired around her. Emily’s family still comes across funny video clips of her that she didn’t get around to sharing with them. They continue to contribute to causes she supported, and they draw strength from knowing that she would want them to keep reaching out to help others. “It can be hard to get out of bed some days,” says Tyler. “But I know Emily would be none too pleased if I didn’t.”

Because of how Emily lived to help people, the decision to donate wasn’t even a question. Of course, it is what Emily would have wanted them to do. And it provides them with some measure of comfort to know that her eyes and heart have made a life-changing difference for others.

“Knowing there are people out there who see and live through her, helps so much in our healing,” says Tyler. “Her expressive eyes, who saw the world in a different way, full of wonder and whimsy, and her huge heart, used to love and be loved by all.”

The heartbreak of losing their daughter led Tyler and Bill to start a local chapter of Compassionate Friends, a support group and network for parents who have lost children. The couple is also active in allergy awareness and organ donor organizations. “The lessons Emily has taught us are: Be Kind, Live Simply and Be Silly,” Tyler adds. “This is how we try to get through each day without her.”