Family inspires others to give after another tragic loss

A Terre Haute family is living through yet another tragedy but they are not giving up on their mission to help others.

Posted: Jun 6, 2019 4:51 PM
Updated: Jun 7, 2019 12:00 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – A Terre Haute family is living through yet another tragedy but they are not giving up on their mission to help others.

Rachael Smith and her husband Danny Joe Smith, Jr. were involved in a motorcycle crash Tuesday night in Vermillion County. Rachael suffered road rash injuries but her husband, who goes by Joe, was airlifted to an Indianapolis hospital.

News 10’s Heather Good has been in contact with the family and has learned Joe will not recover from his injuries. He is an organ donor and the family is working through that process.

Rachael has already lived through one tragedy. Her bother, Garrett Sands, was shot and killed just fourteen months ago. Since then, Rachael has worked alongside her mother, Jayna Sullivan, to create the Garrett Sands Kindness Project. The group does good deeds and random acts of kindness in honor of Sands.

A Garrett Sands Kindness Project blood drive had already been planned for Thursday when the motorcycle accident happened. While Sullivan and Smith handled matters in Indianapolis, family and friends made sure the blood drive still happened.

Sullivan has been an advocate for blood, tissue and organ donation since the loss of her son. Garrett was a tissue donor and says her son-in-law will donate all of his organs.

Sullivan says the family is working with the hospital to arrange a “donor walk.” A donor walk is a final walk for families as their loved one is moved from the intensive care unit to the operating room. In many cases, other people will line the hallways as a kind of sendoff and salute to the patient. At this time, the family does not know when surgery will happen.

Sullivan describes Joe as a “great friend” and “fighter for justice” in the aftermath of losing her son.

She posted on Facebook Thursday and said, “Oh Joe. I so love you. I’m so proud of the man you’ve become. Well done, Joe, well done. As I hold your head in my hands and I rub your hair, I already miss you so much.”

A GoFundMe has been set up for Rachel to help with expenses.

To learn more about the GoFundMe, click here. To learn more about the Garrett Sands Kindness Project, click here.

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