Mother's Day is a special day to honor all the strong women in our lives. One Billings mother shares her story about her son T.J., who continues to impact lives even though his time on earth is over.
A great son, friend, and brother. Todd Scott Schreiner Jr. was an active young man who loved life.
"T.J. loved life. He hunted, he fished, he rock climbed, he did so many things for his friends, he just enjoyed the outdoors and living. He was a very active person and he would give the shirt off his back to give anybody in need," said T.J.'s mother, Kim Shanks.
After finishing high school, T.J. decided to join the army, and he served his country for almost three years. A brother to five sisters, Kim says you would always see him playing in the yard with the girls.
"He played pretty pretty princess with his sisters growing up. We always said that when he had a wife, he would know how to treat her right," said Shanks.
Five years ago, T.J. got in a car crash just east of Miles City, five days before Christmas. He was pronounced dead shortly after, at the age of 22.
"Some days it seems like longer, some days it seems like it was just yesterday, it's just it's just unbelievable how fast time goes," Shanks said.
And on Mother's Day, Kim keeps her positive attitude. She remembers every day what she lost, but she remains strong for her family.
"Waking up today is difficult, it's difficult to celebrate a day set aside for you after having to give one of your children back, but you have to realize that life goes on and there are people in your life that need you and need the best of you and you can take your moments to be sad and think of what you lost, but for me I have to just keep moving on because my family deserves the best of me," said Shanks.
Although T.J.'s time on earth is done, his legacy lives on. Through organ and tissue donation, T.J. has impacted the lives of 35 people across the country.
"Amazing, I know that he is looking down on all of us and all of those people and guiding them through life. It's probably the greatest gift he's ever given," said his mother Kim.
T.J.'s heart is now in California, one kidney is in Alaska, and his liver, among other organs are now in Washington state. Along with other bone and tissue donations, T.J. has given others a chance at a new life.
Shanks has multiple letters from the recipients, thanking her for his donation.
"Just an overwhelming amount of gratitude that they acknowledge our loss and the grief we'd had to go through in the last five years but so grateful," Shanks said.
Kim speaks with some of the organ and tissue recipiants frequently, and has become an advocate, raising awareness for organ and tissue donation.
And although T.J. is gone, he has given her a new family of 35 people, who all share a special bond with her son.
"From my side very grateful for them it's like going to see family that you've never met, only you've never met them! So, it's pretty through our experiences it's been one of the greatest things to have those families become our family," said Shanks.