This year, we wanted to do something special for all of the wonderful organizations that supported our family during this difficult time. Each of these amazing organizations touched our lives in very special ways.
In 2021, the Smilin' Rylen Foundation was able to donate over $40,000 to these very special organizations!
Ronald McDonald House Houston
With a mission of "Keeping families with sick children together and near the care and resources they need, our family was able to remain close to Rylen day and night. Naturally Kristen did not want to leave Rylen's side, thankfully The Ronald McDonald Family Rooms, provided a peaceful place to for her to rest, relax and spend time together as a family without having to leave the hospital.
Research shows that staying close by allows parents to better communicate with their child’s medical team and improves adherence to complicated treatment plans.
Rylen is a HERO and he lives on everyday because of organ donation. When the doctors talked to Kristen and Travis about the opportunity of Rylen being an organ donor, there was no question. Both having family members who have been recipients of organs, the answer seemed simple.
Every day, an average of 92 people across the country receive lifesaving organ transplants, and countless others receive lifesaving tissue transplants. Many more receive the gift of sight through cornea donation.
Even so, there is a critical shortage of organs across the country. More than 118,000 individuals are waiting for a lifesaving transplant. Of those, more than 10,000 are Texans.*
Every 10 minutes, a new person is added to the national organ transplant waiting list, and every day 20 people die waiting for a lifesaving transplant.
The generosity of an individual donor can save up to eight lives through organ donation and countless others through tissue donation. Skin is used to treat burn patients and individuals with cancer; bone can be used to treat orthopedic injuries and cancer patients.
Click Here for a Brochure about Organ Donation
Click Here to Become an Organ Donor
Emma's Hugs was an organization that Kristen and Travis has never heard of, but through the help of a social worker, they quickly learned how a simple act of kindness can mean so much in a time of need. Parking is one thing that you don't really think about when your child is sick, but the cost quickly adds up when your hospital stay is days on end. "It was one less thing we had to worry about, we could come and go as we needed too". So moved by this tremendous act of kindness, the Cowan family passed it forward and gave the remaining money on their ORANGE chip to another family in need. Just another way that Rylen could touch the life of someone else. It is the goal of Emma's Hugs to assist families who are in the Texas Medical Center with “random acts of kindness,” by paying for hospital parking. Everyone needs a hug from time to time. A small donation of $12 will gift a family in need 1 day of parking.
Emma's Hugs, P.O. Box 8388, Baytown, TX 77522
Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
This organization is full of very special individuals. Kristen and Travis were blessed to have a friend and representative for the organization, take photos of the family and Rylen. "These treasured moments are so very precious to our family". Providing the gift of remembrance photography for parents suffering the loss of a baby. A volunteer based organization, NILMDTS has over 1,700 active photographers around the world. NILMDTS reaches every state in the United States and has been or is present in 40 countries worldwide.
Bo’s Place exists to offer support and community to those who have experienced the death of a loved one.
A non-profit, free-of-charge bereavement center, Bo’s Place offers multiple grief support services for adults, children and families, and provides education and resources for those who assist people in grief.
Bo’s Place operates on the belief that it is helpful and healing for grieving children and adults to share their stories, memories, experiences, thoughts and feelings with those who can understand their journey. Bo’s Place offers the only free on-going grief support program in the greater Houston area for children and their families.