A Teenage Athlete Helps Many with His Gift of Donation

Tyler Spann| Tissue Donor

At just 15 years old in 2018, Tyler Spann already topped six feet tall with the powerful physique of a natural athlete. He brought exceptional talents to the field in football, basketball, and track — having first tagged along at age 7 to his older brother's football practices. He enjoyed cooking and was obsessed with candy — especially Skittles. Tyler also loved shopping with his mother and had an extensive sneaker collection. 

Tyler was a bright spot, a beam of light in the lives of all who met him. His mother, Angie, describes him as an amazing kid whom she was extremely close to. Tyler was a doting son who would meet his mother at the door when she got home from work so he could carry in her laptop and work bag. He even had a sweet nickname for her; he called her "sugar."

When it was time for the family's 2018 summer vacation, Tyler picked Florida for the location. A few days into the vacation, Tyler was playing football on the beach when a riptide pulled him from shore. He drowned before he could escape the strong current.

Tyler’s father, Kimmy Spann was driving the family back to Tennessee when they received the call asking if the family would consider donation. As Tyler’s family faced the worst moment of their lives, they made the selfless decision to help heal others by donating Tyler’s tissue. Both his mother and father knew that it was something their son would not hesitate to do. Tyler was able to help many people through his gifts. “Tyler would have wanted to be a donor and help someone,” said Angie. “I am so proud of him.”

Tyler continues to have an impact even after his passing. The Henderson county mayor and Lexington city mayor issued a proclamation declaring June 19 “Tyler Spann Water Awareness Safety Day.” The event includes water safety lessons and shares drowning statistics. Since Tyler loved crayons and his football number was 24 — the number of crayons that come in a pack — his mother started an annual summer crayon drive for every elementary school child in the county, some of whom have never owned their own box of crayons before receiving a donation.