Derek Thomson Sheely was a strong, extremely healthy, and smart 22-year-old honor student who played fullback and linebacker in pee wee, high school, and college football for nine years. He wore number 40, and he never had a documented concussion. Derek was a two-time academic all-conference selection in college and wanted a career in public service. On August 22, 2011, during football practice for his senior season at Frostburg State University, Derek suffered a traumatic brain injury and died one week later on August 28, 2011. He was smart and witty, silly and sarcastic, caring and passionate, teasing and comforting, and leading and driven. Derek had a big heart, heroic willpower, a beautiful smile, a strong hug, a sharp wit, and amazingly warm blue eyes.
Derek was a natural leader who did so by example, a dedicated warrior who pushed himself, a passionate and loyal friend and brother who always seemed to know when to give you a sarcastic tease or a big hug.
Derek Sheely lived his life with dedication and compassion – for his family, his friends, and his teammates whom he loved as brothers. Derek never hesitated to help those in need of his strength, his heart, or his witty perspective. It was not surprising that Derek became an organ donor when he earned his driver’s license, even though we had never discussed the topic with him. Through his gift of life, Derek continues to help others. We would like to share with you those he helped.
Derek’s powerful kidneys were able to save two Maryland men. One is a 31-year-old who is fluent in Spanish and was in need of lifesaving surgery since Spring, 2010. The other is a 70-year-old engineer for the Department of Energy and was in need since Winter, 2009.
Derek’s beautiful blue eyes were able to help two blind people see.
The details of all of Derek’s donations are not currently known to us, but we do know that Derek saved many lives through transplants and medical research.
Please continue to share stories about Derek with us. Please continue to say his name. And please remember: “This is a new day. You can waste it or use it for good. Today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever. In its place is what you have left behind; let it be something great.”
So rest assured that Derek’s loyal heart of a champion will beat on, Derek’s noble passion will help others live, and Derek’s beautiful blue eyes will continue to see into the future.