ADEL, Iowa — The family of the 21-year-old Austin Goodrich is still trying to process his tragic death from a motorcycle crash Saturday morning in downtown Des Moines.
His family remembers him as someone who loved helping others, something he is still doing even after his death.
“The biggest thing I’ve heard from people is ‘Austin was kind to me,'” Matt Goodrich, Austin’s father, said.
The words compassionate, adventurous and caring were words his family used to describe Austin. Goodrich said he has since learned more about the acts of kindness his son performed when no one was watching.
“I found out through this that he’s done a lot of things that he never told anyone about, like good things and he just did it,” Goodrich said. “He didn’t need recognition for it and the donor thing was one of them.”
His parents were unaware Austin chose to be an organ donor, but they said knowing he is able to help save the lives of others gives them some sense of peace.
“As a parent of course you love your child but I think we’re finding out through all this that he was even greater than we thought he was,” Angie Schoebel, his mother, said.
Schoebel said since his death, friends have said they volunteered to be donors, and the family hopes it will inspire more people to do the same.
“What an important thing it was that he did by being a donor,” Goodrich said. “I didn’t know it was such a big deal to be a donor, and to see the respect that people showed that he did that.”
During Austin’s honor walk, his parents said friends and family were present, but dozens of strangers lined the walls to show their gratitude for Austin’s gift. An honor walk is a hospital ritual done to show respect to patients at the end of life before donating their organs to others.
So far, they know his organs have gone to save the lives of five other men, ranging from ages 10 to 60s.
“To know the gift that he is giving so many people, what a blessing to those families to have a second chance, some hope,” Schoebel said.
She said one of Austin’s friend started a hashtag on social media, #BeLikeAustin.
“Who would ever think when your child has a tragic accident that this would grow like this. I guess it’s starting something and I think it’s meant to be,” Schoebel said.
His father said #BeLikeAustin can be interpreted simply too.
“Be kind, do good things and live life to its fullest,” Goodrich said.