Taryn Paul’s life lives on through precious gift to others

Taryn Paul was 15 years old when a tragic car accident took her life. However, from her
young life, three other people were given a chance to live and be healthy. But most
importantly, Taryn’s spirit lives on in hundreds.
Taryn was a typical teenager who loved life. She was always trying to make a difference in
the lives of other people. She loved to dance and spread joy through her dance. In her
bedroom was a sign that read “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one come to you
without leaving happier.”
That is why Taryn’s mother, Tanya Estenson, is so passionate about Taryn’s Trail. This is an
organization created to spread love in memory of a young life taken too soon. Tanya works
through Taryn’s Trail to share her daughter’s life, love, and beauty. She speaks to young
people taking drivers’ education classes. She is an advocate for organ donation and donates Resqme car window breaking tools to young people. The tool that could have saved her daughter’s life.
On August 24, 2017 Taryn was driving on a rural gravel road about a half mile from her
father’s home when the accident happened. She was rescued from water and resuscitated.
Taryn was then airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center. Taryn’s family surrounded her
at the hospital. The first few days they were very hopeful for her recovery but as time
passed, it was determined she was without oxygen for too long.
At this time the family was approached by a group called LifeSource. This group works to
save lives through organ, eye and tissue donation in Minnesota, North Dakota, South
Dakota and parts of Western Wisconsin. Tanya stated that during those agonizing days at
the hospital, this was the easiest decision to make. She knew that this was absolutely
something Taryn would want to do. However, Tanya said it is not like they show on TV. It
took time to coordinate everything and find the best matches.
Later Tanya, and Taryn’s step dad Matt Rinkenberger, were given a sticky note that said
Taryn’s heart was being gifted to a 14 year old girl, one kidney and her liver to a 16 year old
girl and the other kidney and her pancreas to a 53 year old man. Her bone marrow was
also donated for medical research.
Since that time, Tanya has been in contact with the family of the 16 year old but has not
heard from the other two. She felt a need to reach out to each of the recipients and tell them
about Taryn. She wanted them to know what a loving person Taryn was. She hopes to meet
the family of the 16 year old this summer.
Tanya felt that she wanted to share her organ transplant story with others so she applied to
be a LifeSource Donate Life Ambassador. She received her letter of acceptance as an
ambassador on the 4th Anniversary of Taryn’s accident. Since then, she has been sharing
her story with anyone who has questions about organ donation.
Through the pain and heartbreak of losing a child, Tanya felt the need to spread the love
that Taryn had. Taryn’s Trail was formed with a mission to leave a trail of kindness, love,
and grace everywhere. Not one, but many acts of kindness, both big and small, have been completed through Taryn’s Trail.
One of these is for Tanya to talk to Drivers’ Education students about Taryn and encourage
them to follow the laws as they are there for a reason. She also hands out a simple little
rescue tool that could have saved her daughter’s life. It contains a seatbelt cutter and
window breaking device that can be left inside a vehicle or on a keychain. Taryn’s Trail
donates these tools.
She tells young drivers that it is fun and exciting to start driving but it is also a big
responsibility. Follow the rules – things can happen fast. And for anyone coming upon an
accident scene or in trouble themselves, don’t be afraid to call 911.
She also talks to the students about organ donation and about becoming registered to be a
donor. Tanya hopes the students will go home and start a conversation with their family
about organ donation. She would like them to share their thoughts and the parents to share
their opinion. In fact, this is a good conversation to have at any age of your life.
Taryn’s Trail also gives a scholarship each spring to a high school senior, provides transit
passes and donates gift cards, they help local youth groups, and give to teens in need,
along with many other random acts. Taryn’s Trail is not about the money but about helping
neighbors and spreading the love that Taryn carried inside.
As Tanya stated, the only easy thing about the days after Taryn’s accident was deciding to
donate Taryn’s organs. “We believe wholeheartedly it’s what she would have wanted,”
Tanya stated. “We are heartbroken that we didn’t get our miracle but are thankful that
because of Taryn’s gifts, three other families got their miracle.”
Join Tanya in paving Taryn’s Trail of good deeds!