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Organ, Eye and Tissue Donor
Age 16 ~ Petal, MS
Donated on 9/16/04
at Forrest General Hospital, Hattiesburg, MS

Honored by Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency

Holland Dru Shoemake was gentle and kind, befriending those who needed an extra boost. Her sweet spirit always searched out those who needed help, including her friend Dan, who suffered from Asperger's Syndrome. On September 10, 2004, Holland lost control of her car about a mile from home and hit a tree. Sixteen-year-old Holland died six days later and became an organ, tissue, and cornea donor. In her wallet, her parents found a small piece of paper on which she had written: "People can either be better or worse for having met you in life and they might as well be better."

Holland's Story

Holland Shoemake had the kind of smile that warmed your heart. She was gentle and kind and befriended those who needed an extra boost. On the school bus, Holland would sit with the children who were crying and tried to comfort them. As she grew older, her sweet spirit continued to search out those who needed help, such as Dan, who was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. She would sit with Dan at lunch and talked with him during school breaks.

On September 10, 2004, Holland was getting ready for school and asked her mother if she could pick a tie from her brother's closet to wear for "tie day" to show her school spirit during football season. She kissed her mother goodbye and got in her car. About a mile from home, Holland lost control of her car and hit a tree. For the next six days she remained on life support, but on September 16, 2004, Holland died at the age of sixteen.

"As Holland left this world, she gave the ultimate gift of kindness," said her mother Vicki. "A lady in Florida lives today to take care of her son, a gentleman in Louisiana no longer depends on dialysis as a way of life, and a dad in Georgia can celebrate the holidays with his daughters this season. Holland helped two other people see and many others to live a better life by receiving her tissue.

"Missing Holland has been extremely difficult, but knowing that she inspired and helped others has brought us much comfort. And I have the privilege to work as a family care specialist with the Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency. I care for families, much like my own, who have loved and lost someone very special, but who have made life possible for the unnamed, unseen stranger who could not help themselves without the gift of life donation."

Holland's friend Dan and his family honor Holland each scholarship day at school by presenting the Holland Shoemake Spirit Award to a student who extends kindness to others in need.

"We found a small jagged piece of paper in Holland's wallet," recalled Vicki. "In her handwriting it read: 'People can either be better or worse for having met you in life and they might as well be better.'" Holland's gift of donation made life better for many, many others.