Its been a little more than a year since community advocates David and Lynn Gilkey lost their 26-year-old son Ryan Marks. This evening the couple organized a community event to remember their beloved son, and raise awareness for a special cause.
Shortly after Ryan’s death, the Gilkeys were told he signed up to be an organ donor.
Tonight’s event shared the importance of that, and also brought the community together to celebrate his life.
Music and bringing people from all across Wichita together, is how Ryan Marks’ loved ones, chose to remember him. It’s also how he would want it.
“I know his spirit is here, his spirit is here,” said Lynn Gilkey, Ryan’s mother.
Ryan passed away in April of last year, a tragedy for his parents, David and Lynn Gilkey.
But tonight and every year going forward, they say they will turn the tragedy, into something beautiful, with a concert for Ryan. The event featured food trucks, games, vendors, and this year, a special man who traveled all the way from Minnesota.
“I am so honored and so blessed to have his heart recipient here today with us, Mr. Bill,” said Gilkey.
Ryan’s heart and other organs were donated to people needing it most, and his heart recipient says the 13 hour drive, was well worth it.
“It’s bittersweet for me, it was when I got it, because I knew somebody had to pass, but to see so much outpouring of love is as special as it gets,” said Bill Hanna, Minnesota.
And it gave Ryan’s children the chance, to hear their dad’s heartbeat.
Midwest Transplant Network worked with the family and says, on average 22 people die every day because of the lack of a life saving organ transplant.