As I have been thinking and planning for upcoming blogs, my thoughts inevitably return to the reason it all began.
Shannon “Sunshine” Larson died September 8, 2007, in Mesa, Arizona, of natural causes related to heat exhaustion, while hiking in Usery Mountain Park. Shannon was 31 years old and just beginning a new chapter in her life.
Shannon had recently moved to the Phoenix area with her fiancé and although she had done extensive hiking previously, she was unaware of the effects of the intense heat and the subsequent large quantities of water necessary under these circumstances. Perhaps her death could have been avoided if information had been available to her about the dangers of dehydration and heat stroke.
Shannon was born and raised in Grand Forks, North Dakota, the daughter of Van and Dee Larson. There, she attended elementary and high school and graduated from the University of North Dakota. Following graduation, she was employed for two years at Ecolab in Grand Forks. In the fall of 2006, she moved to Kazakhstan, where she taught Business English, tutored students in English usage, was a member of an International Hiking Club where she participated in philanthropic activities. Also while there, she and her fiancé, Matt Morrison, traveled extensively, including several weeks in Indonesia.
Shannon had a passion for living life to its fullest and was a shining ray of sunshine…. Spending time with family and friends and traveling were her main interests. Her winning smile, compassionate and helping nature, generosity, and sense of humor, touched the lives of all those around her. Whether you had a long-term friendship or just met Shannon, she had such a charm and genuineness about her that she seemed to captivate you, and would always connect with a wink and a smile!
Her family has created the Sunshine Memorial Foundation to honor her memory and help others just as she did. The Foundation is currently raising funds to build the Sunshine Hospitality Home which will help so many. It will provide a place to stay for those in Grand Forks for medical treatments and appointments of many kinds. It will most definitely be a place that brings sunshine to many in difficult circumstances. Proceeds from the upcoming Sunshine Fest will benefit the Home.
We could all use a little more sunshine in our days. My challenge to you is to bring an extra dose of sunshine to someone else’s life this week, friend or stranger. I just might buy a few extra cups of coffee for others this week!