William's story has been featured in an Emmy-winning, national PBS documentary!  Click the link below to watch it online:
William Rollings McMahon Organ Donation Educational Foundation 


                                 "Circle of Life" Shirt Video

The purpose of this non profit 501(c)(3) foundation is to promote organ donation education and awareness.
 In addition to the generosity of our donors, our foundation is supported through the sale of t-shirts, backpacks and key rings bearing the message "Don't Break the Circle of Life - Support Organ Donation", for the sole purpose of publicly bringing attention to this important issue. As William's mother, I travel the globe telling his story so that people will understand how quickly and easily organ failure can happen to anyone.  Our videos and public service announcements can be seen on our pages at: www.youtube.com/donate4william and www.myspace.com/donate4william.  They feature some of our many wonderful "Circle Of Life" organ donation awareness supporters throughout the world. All donations to our foundation are used to produce materials that bring attention to the importance of discussing organ donation with your loved ones. You can also help support us at http://causes.com/donate4william.  For more information, feel free to contact me directly at donate4william@yahoo.com.
Thank you,
Kim McMahon
William's Mom

For more wonderful pictures and stories of people supporting organ and tissue donation by wearing the "Circle of Life" shirts please check out our facebook link below:




Pensacola News Journal Viewpoint Article
  Published-August 13, 2006          

  Viewpoint: Consider being an organ donor and saving lives Kim McMahon

A little over a year ago my 16-year-old son passed away. Yet there is a possibility he could still be here today. My son William was an active, healthy honor student when, during the last week of 2004, he developed flu-like symptoms. In less than a week he was diagnosed with unexplained liver failure. He was flown from Pensacola to Shands Hospital in Gainesville in critical condition. We were told he would need a liver transplant. What a total shock! I thought liver failure was caused by drugs, alcohol or being born with a defective liver. My son fit these descriptions in no way. There was no history of liver problems in our families, and all drug and alcohol screens came back negative. A miracle occurred when he received a donated liver in time to save his life. After his Jan. 2, 2005, transplant William bravely fought for his life and successfully returned home. There he resumed his passions of surfing and playing the guitar. Almost five months after his transplant, he developed complications and once again needed a liver donation. We were not as fortunate this time; he passed away May 19, 2005.

I am an organ donor. But I realized at this time that I really knew very little about organ donation. During our almost five months of treatment and hospitalization, I realized the importance of organ donation education and awareness. We saw children slowly dying as they waited for organs. Based on OPTN (Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network) data, late last month there were 92,383 people waiting for organs, with 2,176 of them newborn to 17 years of age. From our room in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit we would see many of the teenage accident victims arrive. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that car crashes are the leading cause of death for ages 15-20. Of this age group, 7,898 were involved in fatal crashes in 2004 alone. I believe most parents don't discuss organ donation with their children. I had not. Why should we? We never think it will happen to us. We don't ever want to think about the death of our children. But the reality is it does happen every day. And when it does, parents are often asked the question about donating their child's organs and tissue. At this horrific time you are in a state of shock and don't want to start learning about organ donation. Yet your child could unexpectedly be in the next room, waiting for an organ. Because of the size and other issues, most adult organs cannot be used on children. It is a fact that every organ and tissue donor can save and enhance the lives of up to 50 people. While I believe this is a personal decision, it deserves an educated answer. Please understand and discuss organ and tissue donation with your family and friends. By doing so you are helping raise awareness of this life-saving gift -- before it's too late!

Kim McMahon is a lifelong resident of Pensacola. For more information, see


August 18, 2008
Viewpoint: Have a talk about organ donation

Michael Jobling
Have you ever been really overwhelmed hearing about cancer or HIV? You get that feeling where you really want to help, but you know you can't, then you think, "Wow, I'm so lucky that's not me." Well, there are some cases where you can be the cure for one or many other people. It's called being an organ donor. While organ donation is ultimately a personal choice, it should be a family decision. The hardest part for some people about becoming an organ donor is convincing their parents to let them. Many parents, when they hear the words "organ donation," immediately think, "There is no way my baby is losing an organ because someone else is sick!" But that's exactly the point to help them understand, flip the tables on the situation and ask them how they would feel if it were you who was waiting for a life-saving organ. About two years ago, a woman came to my school to speak to us about organ donation. I expected the typical "do this now" speech, but she came from a completely different angle. Her son, William McMahon, died at the age of 16 because he did not receive a liver transplant in time. He was a surfer, like me. He was 16 and went to Pensacola High School, like me. He was a normal kid doing normal things, just like my friends and me. After that I went home and told my mom his story and that I wanted to be a donor, and I wanted to save a life. She immediately said yes, and told me she, too, was a donor. Through Chain Reaction I was exposed to the "Have a Conversation" project for organ donation. I think one of the most important things you could talk to your parents about is organ donation, and spreading the word is the goal of the project. If this inspires you at all, go home, talk to your parents, and become an organ donor. Visit mychainreaction.org and click "Yes, I've had the conversation." Tell your friends and spread the word about organ donation. Help save a life.


Michael Jobling is a resident of Pensacola, a Pensacola High Tiger, a surfer and an organ donor. 




                                           PENSACOLA NEWS JOURNAL

May 19, 2008 Surfers ride wave in friend's memory

'Paddle Out' event stresses importance of organ donation

Emily Garber
News Journal correspondent

As the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico, 19 surfers braved the choppy waters Sunday and paddled through the waves beside the Gulf pier to join hands and recite the Lord's Prayer in memory of William McMahon.  William, 16, died May 19, 2005, while awaiting a liver transplant. Before entering the water, participants and surfers involved in the fourth annual "Don't Break the Circle of Life" Memorial Paddle Out Event joined hands and recited different names of those who have died waiting for an organ transplant. 

 Julian Eubanks, 33, was among those attending the memorial. Eubanks experienced kidney failure at 25 and has been on a organ waiting list for eight years, he said."There needs to be more days like today, more public education," Eubanks said. "There are 100,000 people waiting for organ and/or tissue donations."




The first "Paddle Out" was arranged in 2005 shortly after William's death by his former Pensacola High School English teacher, John Murray. Murray surfed with him at 5 a.m. every day before school, William's mother, Kim McMahon, said.  


People gathered to hear the stories of those who have had experiences with organ transplants. Bands performing at the Gulfside Pavilion at the "Paddle Out" provided musical interludes, often bringing members of the audience to their feet to dance to familiar tunes. 

Terri Harrington, one of the speakers, promoted organ donation by sharing the story of her late husband who donated his heart, pancreas, liver and one of his kidneys. She has met three individuals who received her husband's organs, all of whom are "doing great." One person helped four individuals," she said. "Organ donation is a powerful gift."   

The William Rollings McMahon Foundation was formed in 2006 by Kim McMahon after William was diagnosed with unexplained liver failure and died waiting for a liver. Money raised at the event goes to increasing awareness of the importance of organ and tissue donation.  

Pensacola resident Revonda Stewart, who received a donated liver four years ago from a 27-year-old man, was diagnosed with autoimmune disease in February 2004. She received her transplant in July 2004. "I'm very grateful to the person," Stewart said. "(The donated liver) allowed me to see one of my sons graduate and get married." 

While McMahon did not get to see her son graduate from high school, she was encouraged by the turnout and said she plans to keep her son's memory alive through the annual event. Blake Jones, a friend of McMahon's son who had played with him in a band, sang a song he wrote titled "Unread Letters to Will," which left McMahon in tears. "I thought that people would forget and go on with their lives," McMahon said. "(The event) actually started getting bigger."

 In the two years that followed William's death, McMahon said surfers and non-surfers alike would come to the "Paddle Out." McMahon since has traveled to different colleges, churches and schools to tell her son's story. "Putting a face and a name on something makes it real," McMahon said. "I've heard that 90 percent of people who donate do so because of a story they heard."



Teen's life celebrated today in the surf

Gathering raises awareness about organ donation
Rebecca Ross |
rross@pnj.com | May 15, 2010

William McMahon loved the water. Almost every morning, the Pensacola High School student would rise before dawn to surf at Pensacola Beach, slicing through the waves on his beloved blue-and-yellow board. William's uncle, Russell Rollings, couldn't remember a time when his energetic nephew didn't yearn to surf.  "It was something he always wanted to do," said Rollings, 47, of Pensacola.  "He started surfing with me at about 7, and picked it up really quick. He loved it."

The water is where William is remembered best: on May 19, 2005, the 16-year old died while awaiting a liver transplant. Shortly thereafter, the first "Don't Break the Circle of Life" Memorial Paddle-Out was held at Pensacola Beach. "It was a way for everyone to celebrate William's life," said Kim McMahon, William's mother.  "And we continue to do that and raise awareness for organ donation."

Kim McMahon and others will attend today's "Don't Break the Circle of Life" Memorial Paddle-Out to honor McMahon's son, William, who died at 16 while awaiting a liver transplant. The event also raises awareness about organ donation. (Bruce Graner/bgraner@pnj.com)

Today, from 3 to 6 p.m., the sixth annual Memorial Paddle-Out will take place near the Gulfside Pier on
Pensacola Beach. Surfers will paddle their boards out to form a circle and join hands. On shore,
friends and family members will honor William's memory through prayer, live music and stories of
the much-loved teen.

They also will honor others who have died waiting for an organ transplant and those who have
received the gift of life.

"If I can just get people to talk about organ donation with their families, it's as though I've accomplished
something," said Kim McMahon. "More than 106,000 people are on the waiting list, and those are the
lucky ones."

Since her son's death, McMahon has been an impassioned champion for organ donation.

She created the William Rollings McMahon Organ Donation Educational Foundation in 2006, and
works closely with both the United Network for Organ Sharing and LifeQuest Organ Recovery
Services. The Delta airline flight attendant tells her son's story at high schools and colleges across the

"It's not a happy ending, but to be honest, that makes it something that people will remember," she
said. "I can't tell you how many have been touched by William's story."

It's a story McMahon never imagined she'd be telling.

William was an active, healthy teen when he developed flu-like symptoms during his Christmas
break in 2004. In less than a week, he was diagnosed with unexplained liver failure and flown
to Shands Hospital in Gainesville in critical condition.

"I couldn't believe it when the doctors said he needed a liver transplant," McMahon said. "We had
no history of liver disease in our family. It was shocking."

William received a donated liver on Jan. 2, 2005. After a successful, three-month recovery, the teen returned home and resumed surfing, playing his guitar and riding his unicycle around the neighborhood. "Things were going really well," McMahon said. "We never imagined it could happen again."

Almost five months after his transplant, William developed acute complications. Given 72 hours to
live, he died just 24 hours later, waiting for a new liver.

Maria Copeland, public coordinator with LifeQuest, said William's story packs an emotional wallop. "It's heartbreaking, but it makes such an impact, especially on teenagers," she said. "Kim and I have told Will's story to more than 10,000 students over the years. And many of them are now organ donors."

Steve Vandergriff, a Jacksonville-based television director, was so moved by McMahon's account that he created a video, "Will 2 Live: The William Rollings McMahon Story." The 20-minute film, available online at www.donate4william.org, features interviews with the teen's family, friends and physicians, plus personal
videos and photos. Vandergriff, whose father died of liver failure, said he felt as though he came to know William while making the film. "I shed many tears during the project," he said. "I hope Will's story encourages everyone to consider organ donation. Through others, you can live on."


Want to go?

-- WHAT: Sixth annual "Don't Break the Circle of Life"
Memorial Paddle-Out. Includes performances by The
Gills and DJ Russell, plus
prize drawings.

-- WHEN: 3 to 6 p.m. today. Paddle-out at 5:30 p.m.

-- WHERE: Pensacola Beach, near the Gulfside Pavilion.

-- COST: Free.

-- DETAILS: visit www.donate4william.org.

Learn more about organ donation online at www.donatelifeflorida.org.


Bottom of Form




You Can't Change the Cards You're Dealt, Just how You Play the Hand

Submitted by S_Vandergriff on Fri, 07/17/2009 - 07:02.

Think you’ve got it rough?  Put yourself in Kim McMahon’s shoes: you’re the proud mother of a healthy, handsome 16-year old son who surfs, plays guitar, and earns top grades in school.  Your son is popular and even selected for his school’s homecoming court.  In short, your son’s future is all right there ahead of you and you’re enjoying every minute of it.  Life takes an evil and devastating twist though, when your boy is suddenly diagnosed with unexplained liver failure.  After a dramatic life-saving transplant and five months of a blissful return to normalcy, complications return and your son is suddenly taken ill again, fighting for his life, waiting for a new liver donor, waiting…suffering…and waiting.  This time though, things go from zero-to-sixty in a mere weekend, unraveling faster than medical professionals can react to.  This time your son’s promising life cannot be saved.

It would be understandable if this event wrecked you forever; no one would blame you for giving up.  You could lock yourself in your house and pledge to never come out.  You could let your own life disintegrate by simply not caring anymore.  You could demand sympathy and make excuses to get by.  But William McMahon wasn’t your average kid, and Kim McMahon isn’t your average mom.  Instead, she decided that her family’s story could help others in need by promoting organ donation.  She started a non-profit organization, www.donate4william.org, and began traveling the country to speak at conferences, schools, skating parks…anywhere she can reach a socially responsible crowd with the message of organ sharing.

She has traveled to Tallahassee with others to lobby the State of Florida for a new online organ donor registry, and that registry is slated for launch on July 28, 2009.  Recently she was appointed to the UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing) Patient Affairs Committee, serving as an advocate for patients and their families.  Who knows how many lives will have been saved as a result of her tireless efforts to crusade for organ donation?  What would you have done, if handed the same scenario? 

While you ponder that question, meet Tammy Brown.  This Jacksonville mother was enjoying the all-American life: a handsome, loving husband and two healthy sons.  The tight-knit family of four spent their days bonding together, even working alongside one another in the family business.  One morning, seemingly just like any other, Tammy’s world imploded.  Traveling to a job site in two separate vehicles, her oldest son Larry at the wheel of the car traveling close behind, her son’s auto was suddenly involved in a violent accident.  Her husband was the first to reach the burning vehicle, but it was too late.  One moment the family was sharing breakfast and talking about the workday ahead, the next minute, just like that…Larry was gone.

Like Kim McMahon, Tammy Brown is a resilient mother who became motivated.  As she grieved for her son, she realized that other parents thrust into similar situations, particularly mothers, had to endure the same kind of pain and emptiness she felt.  Though she never fancied herself as a writer, she began to jot down her feelings.  The more she wrote about Larry, the accident, the Brown family’s life afterward, and her innermost feelings, the more therapeutic her words became.  Eventually she mustered the courage to start blogging publicly in the hopes that she might comfort other moms who suffer the loss of their children.  Titling her work as “A Mother’s Journey Forward,” Tammy’s words of encouragement began appearing on Jacksonville.com and the newspaper.  Her writing is heartfelt, inspiring, and provides a true glimpse of a woman’s determination to “pick up the pieces and keep moving forward” after a tragedy. 

If you’ve read Tammy’s work, you cannot help but to be inspired, and perhaps comforted if you’re faced with a similar battle.  Make no mistake – she takes her writing very seriously.  She even joined the Jacksonville Freelance Writers Group to meet other writers and help hone each others’ work.  She has determined that her son’s death will not be the last chapter written in his life’s story. 

So if you think you’ve got it rough with the economy or other personal battles chipping away at you, think about these two courageous moms who came out fighting hard after life had sucker-punched them.  Whatever you’re dealing with, whatever challenges you face – stop and catch your breath…think about Kim McMahon and Tammy Brown…and prepare to take charge of your situation.  How will you turn the negative into a positive?  It’s not up to anyone else – just you.  Life awaits your response.





May 14, 2009 
 Paddle Out for a purpose
Event encourages organ donations
BY LISA NEWELL Gulf Breeze News lisa@gulfbreezenews.com

Four years ago, 16-year-old William McMahon succumbed to liver failure. The popular International Baccalaureate student was the picture of health until he developed flu-like symptoms the day after Christmas, which were eventually diagnosed as unexplained liver failure. After being placed on the transplant list, he received a healthy liver and was able to resume his daily activities, even returning to surfing on Pensacola Beach. But complications arose and the donor liver eventually failed, and he was placed a second time on the transplant list. Five months after his initial diagnosis, he died awaiting a transplant. "He just got his driver's license, he was on homecoming court, he was popular, he was a wonderful kid," his mother, Kim McMahon said. McMahon may have lost her son, but she's determined not to lose the battle. She's raising awareness of the importance of becoming an organ and tissue donor by organizing the third annual William McMahon Memorial Paddle Out on Pensacola Beach Saturday, May 16 from 3 to 6 p.m.
William McMahon, 16, died four years ago while awaiting a liver transplant. His mother now campaigns for organ donor- ship.
Before William's sudden illness, organ donation was far away from her mind. With two healthy sons, it never occurred to her to discuss whether or not to be an organ donor. She learned during months of sitting in Shands Hospital in Gainesville, while her son waited for a transplant, that on Friday and Saturday nights, grief stricken families would learn that their children had died from car accident injuries, and be asked the question about organ donation on the spot. "What a horrible time to ask someone this question," McMahon said. "It's important to talk with your family about it (ahead of time). To that end, McMahon founded a nonprofit organization in William's name, and a website at www.donate4william.org. She became a public speaker, visiting skateboard parks and classrooms to show a film about William and raise awareness about organ donation. "One person who is an organ donor can save or help over 100 people," McMahon said. She lobbied the State of Florida to implement an online organ registry, and hopes it will be active within three months. Currently, the only place to declare your intention to be an organ donor is the Driver's License office. In some countries, organ donation is assumed. On Saturday, the FLOW Mobile (Florida License on Wheels) will be present for people to sign up as an organ donor and offer other services such as tag renewals. The Southeast Tissue Alliance, Life Quest and Florida Tissue Services will be on hand to answer questions about organ donations and there will be live entertainment by the Fort Morgan Slammers, a southern rock band, and "Sky Tells All" a band that includes a member of William's former band. That member wrote a song called "Unread Letters to Will." T-shirts, back packs will be on sale to raise money for awareness programs.




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