Gilbert, SC (Paul Kirby) – Taylor Dorward was a very normal 18-year-old teen boy on and before the Fourth of July in 2018. He had grown up in the Pelion area of Lexington County before he and his family moved to a neighborhood in Boiling Springs closer to Gilbert. Although the two high schools in these areas are often rivals in sports, the move allowed Taylor to double his many friends. The outgoing teen made lots of new friends and still enjoyed the relationship with his pals from Pelion. Taylor, a typical teen with a shining, fun loving spirit loves God, his family, all those friends, and doing the things that boys his age like to do. He looked forward to enjoying the Fourth of July in 2018 at a cookout and pool party with some friends last summer.
That year, Taylor decided to celebrate the 4th near Rock Hill at the home of a friend. His parents were here in Lexington County enjoying the holiday. He and the friends were doing what you’d expect. They were swimming, eating, and in general just enjoying a great summer day. At some point during the party, one of the friends noticed they hadn’t seen Taylor for a while. He had been in the pool and they got worried; Where was Taylor? One of the friends was a lifeguard at Carowinds, and he quickly realized that Taylor was under the water of the pool and wasn’t moving. The boy’s training kicked in and he jumped in the pool, grabbed Taylor, and brought him to the side. There, others helped pull Taylor’s limp body from the water. To everyone’s horror, Taylor wasn’t breathing and had no pulse. By all medical standards, Taylor was dead.
Not willing to believe their friend was gone, some of Taylor’s closest friends began trying to revive him while someone else dialed 911. First responders arrived, took over the resuscitation efforts, and even shocked his heart five times. One of the EMTs said that if they hadn’t gotten a heartbeat in about 20-minutes, they’d have to stop and accept that Taylor was gone forever. Nineteen minutes after they started their life-saving protocol, a faint heartbeat showed on their monitor. Taylor was quickly transported to a hospital where he was admitted to the intensive care unit in grave condition. His parents were called, and they rushed to be by his side.
For some time, Taylor lay in a coma. Doctors and nurses hovered around his body while wires and tubes ran to machines that monitored him and helped keep him alive. Meanwhile, many of Taylor’s friends gathered in the waiting room. They were prohibited from seeing him by hospital rules, but they could be with each other for strength and comfort. They certainly could wait and pray together. Taylor’s father Shawn could see the desperation of the friends who felt the need to do something gathered in that waiting area. He knew they felt hopeful but helpless and needed to do something to feel as if they were helping. He reminded them all that, “We would have given everything we will ever have, to be right where we are now,” even though things looked very dark, there was hope. Shawn thought of a lesson he tried to teach his children, that even a penny is important… even a lowly penny, something people often just discard or leave on the dresser, was important. Even though Taylor’s small steps forward were seemingly too small to measure, they weren’t… just like pennies. Shawn got a jar from one of Taylor’s friends and they kept it where all the friend and family were gathered. He suggested that every time Taylor made any progress, no matter how small, they would put a penny in the jar. If his eyes fluttered, a penny went in the jar. Any motion, a toe wiggle, any small progress at all would be celebrated with a penny in the jar. Soon, the pennies came to mean something special. Everyone who knew him had faith he would be back again just as he was before the accident. Suddenly the jar and the pennies became an important campaign. Everyone tried hard every day to find a new penny for Taylor… something new he couldn’t do the day before…Pennies for Taylor.
Eventually, Taylor did come out of the coma. His loved ones were optimistic, but the doctors were trying to be realist. They warned Taylor would never walk again or have any real quality of life. They also said that most of Taylor’s brain had suffered irreparable damaged from the 13+ minutes he went without oxygen. As the weeks went by, Taylor began to recover. He was showing how strong his will was to survive. It also proved that the prayers Taylor’s friends and family were offering were being heard and God was working on Taylor’s broken brain; More pennies went in the jar.
As time passed, Taylor made some small progress, but he also made some great leaps in his recovery. Eventually the teen that would never walk again, WALKED! He began to be able to talk, feed himself, even work out with his dad in the gym. He passed a test that showed his brain was working just as it had before; More pennies went in that jar.
Over the next 6 months, support for Taylor grew as his dad blogged about his recovery on social media. Thousands shared the blogs and support poured in. People across the world began praying for Taylor and many sent cards and pennies for the jar. Someone even wrote from Australia! The power of the internet was awesome.
Now, in 2019 Taylor has been cleared to jog and has recovered to a point that you would never know he had drowned and died last summer. The only lasting affect is that the part of his brain that receives and interprets signals from his eyes isn’t working. This means that Taylor is blind. His faith, and the prayers and faith of his friends and family, have brought him so far. They all believe that someday, Taylor will see again too. The penny jar has been filled many times over. Still, when any progress is made, any little milestone is reached, pennies go in that jar.
Taylor has decided that near the anniversary of his drowning, he’d run a 5K race to commemorate his healing and triumph over the grave. He’d do it for his family, his friends, and for God. He wasn’t a runner before the accident, but he’s determined to do the race now. The Pennies for Taylor 5K race will be held on July 6th, a year and two days after he drowned. Although race experts advised the Taylor family they shouldn’t even open the registration for the race until the spring, they’ve already built a website and 25 people have pre-registered. If you can run, walk, roll, or crawl, you can participate too. This amazing young man is proof that it can be done!
To see the Facebook page Taylor’s dad has used to document his miraculous recovery, follow this LINK. To learn more about the Pennies for Taylor 5K, click on this LINK.