TODD & TARA STORCH
Vibrant, funny and athletic, Taylor Storch, 13, was thrilled to hit the Colorado slopes in March 2010 for her first family ski trip. "She was having a blast," says her dad, Todd, 43. "The best day turned into the worst nightmare." Taylor, wearing a helmet on an intermediate slope, struck a tree and was pronounced brain-dead at the hospital. "My soul was empty," says mom Tara, 43. "I felt like I was wearing a cement cape."
The grieving couple found comfort knowing their tragedy gave life to others. They donated Taylor's organs (see box) and launched the nonprofit Taylor's Gift (taylorsgift.org) to promote organ donation. Experts say their efforts, along with others', have helped add some 2 million names to Texas's donor registry. The Storches, with kids Ryan, 14, and Peyton, 12, formed a close bond with Taylor's heart recipient, Patricia Winters, 42, a labor and delivery nurse and mom of two who had a life-threatening heart condition. "Now I can walk, breathe, pick up my boys at school," she says. "I have a tomorrow because of Taylor."
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