Bryan Clauson, Walter Payton were epitome of why being an organ donor is so important

(Getty Images)

Even in death, Bryan Clauson will live on.

The 27-year-old race car driver who was as talented as he was friendly suffered a tragedy no one – nor his family or friends – should ever have to go through.

Clauson was doing what he loved, racing last Saturday in a Midget dirt race in Kansas – a race that would ultimately be his last. Less than 24 hours after a horrific wreck, after doctors did everything they could to save him, his family bid farewell and let Clauson go to Heaven.

But as we learned Wednesday, in one of the last things of his time on earth, Clauson performed an act so selfless that far too many of us rarely think of, let alone ever do in our own lives.

Being a registered organ donor, Clauson added to an already stellar legacy as a race car driver and human being.

MORE: Bryan Clauson spirit lives on: donates organs to five transplant recipients

With God calling him home, Clauson had one last thing to do before he left us – if he couldn’t go on, he wanted to make sure that he could help others go on living themselves.

And that’s exactly what the California native did: in death, he gave the gift of prolonged life to five anonymous individuals.

Clauson’s fiancee, Lauren Stewart, and his family took to his Facebook page on Wednesday to once again thank fans, friends, competitors and everyone else for their prayers, thoughts and support in a very trying time.

Then came the big surprise, when it was revealed that Clauson not only was a registered organ donor and an advocate for organ donation, but that he had shown his commitment first-hand by donating his own organs to individuals waiting for what potentially could be a life-saving transplant for some, if not all of them.

We don’t know which of Clauson’s organs were harvested or donated – and it shouldn’t matter.

What should matter is after making the ultimate sacrifice to his sport, he made an equally ultimate sacrifice to help give prolonged life to people he had never met who otherwise may have lived shortened lives without Clauson’s gift.

Even if they aren’t race fans or maybe never even heard of Clauson – or tragically what happened to him – the quintet of individuals that received his organs will now carry a part of him with them for the rest of their lives.

And hopefully they’ll remember to thank him every day for the rest of what will hopefully be long, productive and healthy lives.

I typically don’t like to inject myself into stories like this, but I’d like to share a tale that will hopefully help you understand just how significant Clauson’s donations were.

I’m a registered organ donor; have been for nearly 20 years, dating back to 1999 – which you’ll understand why that year is so important in a few short moments.

I have friends and family members that have criticized me for the desire to donate my organs when I die. I’ve tried to explain to them countless times that if I can help someone live or extend his or her own life, I want to do so.

After all, if I can’t use those organs anymore, they’re not going to do me any good if I’m buried or cremated. Like old food, they’re just going to go to waste.

But if they’re still usable, and can help someone else – especially someone who might otherwise die – tell the doctor to get the scalpel sharpened and ready.

I had a very good friend who waited desperately for an organ transplant; in his case, it was a liver. He was on the waiting list for at least a couple of years, but a match was never found.

He was wealthy, beloved and one of the greatest athletes the city of Chicago ever knew. His name was Walter Payton.

Chicago Bears great Walter Payton in one of his final public appearances, throwing out the first pitch at Wrigley Field before a Chicago Cubs game. He would be dead just over six months later after a couragious battle with liver disease and bile duct cancer.
Chicago Bears great Walter Payton in one of his final public appearances, throwing out the first pitch at Wrigley Field before a Chicago Cubs game in April 1999. He would die just over six months later after a brave battle with liver disease and bile duct cancer. (Photo: Matthew Stockman/Allsport)

Unfortunately, even with all his wealth, adoration and notoriety, Payton could not get the thing he needed the most to continue living: a new liver.

He waited and waited and waited. Sadly, a viable match was never located.

Payton eventually got to the point where even if a transplantable liver had been found, it would have been too late as bile duct cancer eventually overtook and ravaged his once strong body until he passed away as a mere shadow of himself on Nov. 1, 1999.

I remember when Payton first announced his illness in February 1999. He looked so gaunt, so weak, so … so … sick. I can’t help but think how ironic it would have been if there had been just one Chicago Bears fan out there who would have been a perfect match, likely would have relished the opportunity to help save one of the team’s greatest players, but like far too many in the world was either too scared or too uninformed to be willing to donate still viable organs that could have kept someone like Payton alive.

In the final months of his life, Payton worked tirelessly – as much as his weakened body would allow him to – on behalf of organ transplantation and to raise awareness of why it’s such an important initiative. Because we had known each other for nearly 20 years before he passed away, it didn’t take long for Payton to convince me to become a registered organ donor – and I’ll remain one until I take my final breath.

Bryan Clauson likely never met Payton (Clauson was only 10 years old when Payton died at 45), but directly or indirectly, both understood just how important it is to be an organ donor. If things had been different Saturday in Kansas and Clauson had either survived or not even been involved in that wreck in the first place, it still would not have diminished just how important organ donation is. Or, what if Clauson had survived, but needed an organ transplant himself? Do you see how vital such actions are? They work both ways.

The racing community and his countless fans all mourn Clauson’s death and will continue to do so for a long time to come.

But in death and in giving back the most precious parting gift he could to this world, Clauson just acquired five new fans – perhaps the most important fans he’s ever made – that will cheer him on for the rest of their own lives.

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Vicki Golden and 805 Beer tell a unique story from an Inverted Perspective


Vicki Golden has earned a career worthy of a thousand stories and 805 Beer tells at least one of them, as “Inverted Perspective” premiered March 30 on the company’s website and YouTube channel.

Golden did more to break the glass ceiling in SuperMotocross than she ever thought possible. She knows this because riders have never felt the need to explain any of her accomplishments with the disclaimer, “for a girl”. 

At this point in Golden’s career, she’s been the first woman to finish top 10 in AMA Arenacross Lites, the first woman to qualify in the Fast 40 in Monster Energy AMA Supercross and the first woman to compete in freestyle Moto X competition, earning a bronze medal by doing so.

Her love for moto came from childhood while she watched her dad and brother ride. By seven she was on her bike and making waves throughout Southern California. 

Golden, 30, is still madly in love with the sport and has no plans on moving away but her career is already one to talk about. 805 Beer’s film series wanted to do exactly that.

“I’m taken aback by it all,” Golden told NBC Sports about the documentary. “It’s just crazy to see your story, it’s one thing to live your life and battle everything that comes about but it’s another to just sit there and talk about it.”

805 approached Golden about the feature by asking, “Do you even realize that what you do, and your story is special?”

Golden took the question as a blank canvas to map out the highs and lows of her career and life. 

Women in SuperMotocross: Jordan Jarvis knows how tough it is

The title “Inverted Perspective” came from a brainstorming session with Dominick Russo and it highlights Golden’s outlook on the sport of SuperMotocross and her life in general. 

“My whole life, my whole career was thinking differently and looking at things that shouldn’t be done and aren’t there, while being able to make a place for myself, where no one thought there should be a place,” Golden said.  “It’s inspiring someone to think in different ways. It sums up my life.”

Vicki Golden is not “fast for a girl”; she’s just fast. – 805 Beer

While Golden is no stranger to the spotlight, this was the first time she’s been fully involved with the storytelling and creation of a feature about herself. 

“It’s not like a full new experience,” Golden said. “Obviously, you get your standard questions about your upbringing and accomplishments, but I’ve never really put into perspective things that happened in my past with my dad and putting that to light. Also, certain other things that maybe got overlooked in previous interviews or films. I wanted to touch on these and Dom wanted to create a story. It’s just cool to see it come to light, it’s a nearly impossible thing to tell somebody’s life story in 40 minutes.”

Golden’s father was left paralyzed after an ATV accident, robbing him the opportunity to ride again. This happened a few months before the father-daughter duo was set to compete in the Loretta Lynn’s Amateur Nationals when Vicki was 12. While she might have been unable to grasp the severity at the time, it’s something she carries with her. Golden continues to ride in his honor.

Years later, an accident in 2018 nearly sidelined the then 25-year-old Vicki when a freestyle accident almost resulted in the amputation of her lower leg. 

Women in SuperMotocross Ashley Fiolek is building community

Golden 805 Beer
Vicki Golden has ridden a variety of disciplines in SuperMotocross, which gives her a unique perspective. – 805 Beer

“Inverted Perspective” highlights her father’s diligence in helping Vicki continue with her career and the kindness and strength he carried while fighting his own battle. 

“My dad was the entire reason that I started riding in the first place,” Golden said. “So, to honor his memory and to honor what we went through and how hard he pushed to keep our dream alive and keep everything going – in that sense then, it was really special to be able to honor him and talk about him.”

The 40-minute feature was filmed entirely in black and white, a stark contrast from the oversaturated world of motocross where the brighter the suit the easier it is for fans to find their rider and follow him in the race. By filming in monochrome Russo and Golden had the chance to focus on the race and track from a different perspective. 

“It was cool to be able to film it differently,” Golden said. “It created a challenge in the sense of what was going to be more visually impactful for the film.

“I couldn’t be here without the companies that back me but at the same time, it’s not like the logos or colors disappeared, it’s just different lights shed on different spots. It’s just a cool way to do it and to take color away and still be impactful. When you think of black and white, you think of old school, the OG way of doing things.”