Shawn McMullen became an organ donor upon his passing in September 2015. His family shared this remembrance.
Shawn J. McMullen was a courageous and caring man who served his country as a soldier in the U.S. Army and worked to comfort and help others in his daily life. After his passing at the age of 26, Shawn's generosity continued through organ donation.
The son of Timothy and Diane and younger brother of Dan and Kelly McMullen, Shawn grew up in Williamsville and attended schools there. He enlisted in the military at the age of 19. He was a 19 Delta Cavalry Scout in the U.S. Army.
Shawn enjoyed hanging out on the water at Canandaigua Lake, and later worked in outdoor construction for a company there. A movie enthusiast, he collected movies and related items. He especially enjoyed action-adventure and comedy films. He liked to make people laugh with movie quotes and his own jokes.
"He offered comfort in times of need and added joy to even the happiest of moods," his family recalled. Shawn liked playing with children and had a contagious smile. He enjoyed playing poker, and participated in Texas Hold 'Em competitions at Casinos.
Wounded during his service in the Army, Shawn received treatment at military facilities. "While he was there, he was also helping out older vets during different events," shared his mother, Diane.
As a wounded veteran, Shawn understood the difficulties that veterans often experience. He stressed the importance of respect for soldiers, especially as they attempt the difficult task of re-acclimating to civilian life.
Shawn was quiet about the assistance he gave others, but after his death his parents received letters from people whose lives Shawn had touched. "He was also active in helping people who struggled with addiction and he was an AA member," Diane said. "He was always trying to assist the underdog."
His respect and care for others came in many small ways as well. "He was always tending to older people," said Diane. "He was the one who would open the door for you."
Upon his death in September 2015, Shawn became an organ donor. Shawn hadn't talked with his family about donation directly, but had a wristband to show his support. "He wore that wristband faithfully," said Diane. "Even though we did not know he had it until he died, we noticed it in all the photos afterward."
Shawn knew Alison Gerlach, a fellow Williamsville student who passed away in 2003 and was an organ donor. The Ali's Rally Foundation created in her memory helps to raise awareness of the need for donation and supports Unyts educational programs.
Shawn gave the Gift of Life to five people. Four men and one woman received organ transplants because of Shawn's generosity and the support of his family.