Dogs for a cause: Clauson family shifts focus of annual dog-walk event to organ donation following death of racer Bryan Clauson

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By Sadie Hunter

Family members of the late racecar driver from Noblesville, Bryan Clauson, are changing the focus of their third annual dog-walk event to reflect the positive story that came after his death.

Clauson died Aug. 7, 2016, from injuries after an Aug. 6  crash at the Belleville (Kan.) Nationals midget car race. Just days after his death, the Clauson family revealed that Clauson was a registered organ donor. His heart, lungs, both kidneys and his liver saved five lives. In addition, Clauson’s donation of tissue has the chance to enhance approximately 75 lives over the next decade.

“We started a campaign with (Donate Life). They told us to set a reachable number, so we started with a goal of getting 200,” Bryan’s mom, Diana Clauson, said.

Within a few weeks of setting up the campaign, the number had far surpassed initial expectations, as nearly 1,000 had become registered donors in Clauson’s honor. So the family decided to increase their goal to 2,000, and today, nearly 6,000 have registered to become organ, tissue and eye donors through the Clauson campaign.

Now, the Clauson family is looking ahead to its annual dog-walk in Noblesville’s Forest Park, looking for donations, sponsors, partners and more for the April 30 event.

“This is our third year for this dog walk. The first two years, proceeds went to the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. This year, we want all the proceeds to go to the Indiana Donor Network,” Diana said.

Bryan’s sister, Taylor McLean, is now employed with the Indiana Donor Network as a community-relations coordinator, which she said is a direct result of her brother’s organ and tissue donation.

“Even though Bryan died in Nebraska, the Indiana Donor Network has now adopted us, our family, with all the aftercare stuff,” Diana said.

In an effort to increase turnout for the event, Diana said registration will begin in February.

“We really want to get the word out there early,” Diana said. “We’re going to incentivize people to register online by offering discounted registration fees.”

In years past, Diana said the event draws more than 100 participants and their dogs for the two-mile walk – which often includes public safety officials and their K9’s, Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear and his dog Reggie and dog lovers from throughout the community. It typically raises more than $20,000.

“My goal this year would be to raise $40,000 to $50,000,” Diana said. “So that’s why we really want to offer incentives online.”

The event will include several registration levels, including “lazy dog” for those who don’t want to walk or can’t make it to the event but still want to donate. Other levels include various pricing for individuals who want to participate but won’t be walking with a dog and for those who want to bring multiple pets.

Later this month, the committee for the Walking to Save Lives Dog Walk will meet on Jan. 26, and Diana said committee meetings are open to anyone looking to get involved with the efforts of the Clauson family or to become more involved in organizing the April 30 event. The meeting will begin at TIMETIME at Clauson Marshall Racing, 7719 Loma Ct., Fishers.

To learn more, email timothyclauson@comcast.net. To register to become a donor through the Clauson campaign, visit registerme.org/Campaign/BryanClauson.

WALKING TO SAVE LIVES DOG WALK

What: In honor of Bryan Clauson, and April being “Donate Life” month, the Clauson family is continuing its annual dog-walk to benefit the Indiana Donor Network. Rescue dogs also will be on site for adoption.

When: Noon, April 30. Registration begins at 10 a.m. Final walkers will begin no later than 3 p.m.

Where: Forest Park, 701 Cicero Rd., Noblesville.

Registration: Discounts available with advanced online registration. Registration site will launch in February.

ORGAN DONATION: BY THE NUMBERS

  • 119K+ – Number of men, women and children on the national transplant waiting list
  • 22 – Number of people who die, on average, each day waiting for a transplant
  • 48 – Percent of people who are registered organ donors
  • 3 – Number per every 1,000 people who die in a way that allows for organ donation
  • 8 – Number of people who can potentially be saved through one person’s donation (via heart, both lungs, liver, pancreas, both kidneys and intestines)
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