Books-Sandwiched-In Series Begins

Mary Jane Rowles (Provided photo)

Mary Jane Rowles (Provided photo)

CLEARFIELD – The American Association for University Women: Books-Sandwiched-In 2014 series began with a presentation by Mary Jane Rowles on a “heart-wrenching” book titled Taylor’s Gift: a Courageous Story of Giving Life and Renewing Hope. Rowles summarized her love of the book to the entranced audience on March 5 at the Joseph & Elizabeth Shaw Public Library.

Gwen Crandell, AAUW member, introduced the audience to Rowles, a reading specialist in Clearfield. Crandell, who also worked as a reading specialist, informed the audience that in order to perform that position, one must love books. Rowles, she said, is no exception.

According to Crandell, when Rowles returned a copy of Taylor’s Gift to the Shaw Public Library, she shared with Paula Collins, library director, her appreciation and fondness for the book. Collins informed Crandell that Rowles would be an excellent speaker for the 2014 BSI series. Ultimately, Taylor’s Gift became the first program of the series.

Rowles stated that her first stop upon entering the Shaw Public Library is the fiction side of the new book shelf. Sometimes, she said, she will walk around to the nonfiction side but generally prefers light reads. Taylor’s Gift, which is a nonfiction title, caught her eye with its cover and description, and she wrote down the title to check it out at a later time. When Rowles finally had the chance to start the book, she found that she could not put it down unless her eyes were so filled with tears that she could not see the words.

According to Rowles’ review, Taylor’s Gift tells the story of the Storch family, five people who fit together “like a puzzle.” Todd and Tara Storch, who are from Texas, took their family skiing for a spring break vacation. Tara and one of her daughters, Peyton, returned to the lodge after ski lessons for the day. Todd, his son Ryan, and his oldest daughter, Taylor, decided to take the last run of the day. Taylor led the way down the mountain, and her speed grew out of control. With her brother and father watching helplessly, Taylor ran headfirst into a tree. Taylor’s tragic skiing accident left her brain dead, and her family missing an important piece to its puzzle.

As Rowles conveyed this section from the book, she recalled her own skiing story. Rowles stated that she was so afraid of losing control and traveling too fast down the slope, that it ultimately took her three hours to make one trip down the mountain. For Rowles, reading of Taylor’s skiing accident was terrifying.

Taylor’s death brought a great deal of misery to the Storch family. Tara was unable to get out of bed and even considered overdosing on her medication. Todd debated leaving for a work trip and never returning home. Ryan and Peyton, afraid to leave one another, slept on a mattress in their parent’s bedroom for months. Todd and Tara were unable to speak to each other and almost divorced.

When Taylor’s parents were informed that their daughter was deceased, the doctor posed a difficult question – would they consider donating Taylor’s organs – and they made the immediate decision that it would be what Taylor wanted. With this choice came the stories from the recipients of Taylor’s gift of life and, eventually, healing to the Storch family.

Todd and Tara Storch go on to share the stories from several of the donor recipients in Taylor’s Gift. Taylor’s heart went to a nurse, a cowboy received her pancreas and a kidney, another kidney was given to a biker, and a teenager received her corneas.

As Rowles shares it, each gift made a lasting impression on the recipient. For example, the teenager had a great deal of emotional problems before her cornea transplant. Afterwards, her attitude greatly improved; her mother even considered the teenager to be a different person.

Rowles also shared a story of an appearance on the Today Show with Tara and the nurse, the recipient of Taylor’s heart. Using the nurse’s stethoscope, Tara was able to hear Taylor’s heart beating inside the nurse, enabling her to feel as though Taylor was still with them all.

In Rowles’ presentation, she stated that the family started a foundation in Taylor’s name. The organization, accessible through the Web site,, promotes the importance of organ donation.

According to a statistic from the book, only 37 percent of Americans donate their organs. Through the foundation Web site, individuals are offered the opportunity to register as an organ donor, participate in a scholarship contest, and view upcoming organization events to become more involved in organ donation.

Rowles also shared several passages from the book. At the start of the review, she read a poem to the audience that was written by Taylor days before her tragic skiing accident. The poem, entitled “I Am,” describes Taylor’s passion for life and is often referred to throughout the book. It is also featured on the Taylor’s Gift Web site.

Rowles also read a selection from the end of the book, in which the Storches detail the importance of organ donation: “The title of this book is Taylor’s Gift, but this isn’t just Taylor’s story, or even just our story.

“It’s the story of a cowboy who now has the strength and ability to give back to the community, a nurse who can be an active mom and fully present for her kids, a biker who can give of himself completely, and a teenager who for the first time can see her future.

“It’s the story of countless recipients who received organs because someone heard Taylor’s story and registered to be an organ donor.”

Taylor’s Gift: a Courageous Story of Giving Life and Renewing Hope is available for checkout or hold at Shaw Public Library.

The review concluded with Crandell commending Rowles on her presentation and thanking her for her participation. Crandell reminded the audience that the next program in the BSI series would be held March 12 at 12 p.m. The presenter is Edward Dionne Jr., VMD, and he will be discussing a book he authored called Warm Hearts for Cold Noses: Unusual Tails of a Young Veterinarian.

Additionally, copies of the book will be available for purchase at the event. Crandell also thanked the audience for attending and stated that all who made a monetary donation were contributing to AAUW’s scholarship fund.

Collins also spoke of an upcoming program to be held in Founders Hall of Lock Haven University in Clearfield. Local author Samantha Boulton will be discussing her recently published book The Isthmus Company. Collins encouraged the audience to attend this worthwhile event sponsored by LHU Clearfield and Shaw Public Library on March 27 at 6:30 p.m.

Reservations for the next AAUW: Books-Sandwiched-In program may be placed by visiting the front desk of Shaw Public Library or by calling 814-765-3271 prior to March 11 at 5 p.m.

The library is open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m., and Fridays from 12 p.m. until 5 p.m.  Additional information may also be found on Shaw Public Library’s Web site at

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