It was 2006.
Marcie Taylor was on vacation in the Outer Banks of North Carolina with her beautiful family; her husband, Randy, six-year-old Lauren and three-year-old Drew. They were driving to the beach when their car was hit by a logging truck.
“Its load shifted and T-boned our family’s mini-van,” Taylor said. “Drew was life-flighted to Norfolk. I was seriously injured, breaking my neck, pelvis, my arm.”
“They stabilized me in the Outer Banks and flew me up to Norfolk to be with him,” she continued. “We were told that his injuries were too severe, he would not survive them. He was brain dead at that point.”
Taylor tried, unsuccessfully, to donate her little boy’s organs.
“My world stopped and everybody else’s world kept going,” she said. “And I think that’s what a lot of grievers find. Your world stops. How do you keep going?”
She struggled with the question of why. Why them? Why Drew? Her family found comfort in grief support groups, but soon realized there was a need for more services. They especially saw a need for support services for children, like Drew’s sister Lauren, closer to their home in Shippensburg. The closest she was able to find was the Highmark Caring Place in Lemoyne, which was nearly a one hour drive each way.
“I said his three and a half years couldn’t be enough,” Taylor said. “We need to allow him to make an impact on this earth far beyond his physical time and he’s going to do that through us.”
And that’s how the Drew Michael Taylor Foundation was born.
Taylor left her teaching job to make sure that people in her community would have somewhere to turn in their own community. The foundation offers services for grieving kids and they also have five adult grief support groups.
Cathy Campbell attends a weekly group session called “A Perfect Blend,” encouraging coffee, crafting and conversation.
“It’s a safe place to come and I get validation on any way I feel,” Campbell said.
Campbell lost her son, Christopher, in a car crash. She says grieving is just easier with Taylor by her side.
“It’s like when you walk into a house; a very dark, scary house,” she said. “She’s standing at the door with a flashlight.”
That’s why Campbell nominated Taylor for abc27’s Remarkable Women contest.
“She reaches out,” Campbell said. “She does not wait for people to find her. She read obituaries. She figures out if there’s children. She figures out what the loss is and reaches out an appropriate, proper time.”
The foundation also sponsors special events, such as the Blue Butterfly Ball, which is a formal event for families that have lost a loved one. It offers an alternative to typical father-daughter or mother-son dances, since many times children have lost that particular family member.
It’s in this work that Taylor believes she’s found her purpose and her son’s legacy.
“Every time a griever is helped, my relationship with Drew has continued,” Taylor said. “He’s making that impact that we wanted him to make from the very beginning. His three and a half years weren’t it.”
Drew Taylor would be 20 now. He would be a big brother to Seth, who was born in 2008. And although his mom never found the answer to the “why,” she realized that somewhere along the way she stopped asking the question.
“I’ve always said when I get to heaven, I’m blowing past the gates and running to my kid…so at that point it won’t matter,” Taylor said.
For more information about the Drew Michael Taylor Foundation, you can click here.