The late Nicholas Taylor on a mission trip to Nicaragua. An Air Force second lieutenant, Taylor died last year. CONTRIBUTED

Hero at home and abroad remembered through fund

Seven months ago, 22-year-old Nicholas Taylor, a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force, lost his life in a car accident. While his time on earth was brief, the mark he left on the lives of others, however, will forever be remembered.

As his parents, Mark and Anne Taylor, described him, “Nick had a smile that lit up even the darkest room, a hug that gave the assurance of security, and words of faith and wisdom well beyond his years.”

To keep his memory alive and give students opportunities to participate in mission trips around the world, the Taylors established the Nicholas Taylor Go Mission Fund through The Dayton Foundation.

We talked to Mark and Anne Taylor:

Q: What were Nick’s greatest aspirations?

A: Nick was called to be a servant leader. He wanted to serve Christ and his country. He found his stride in both areas while attending the University of Cincinnati, where he participated in the Air Force ROTC program and later commissioned as a 2nd Lt. in the United Sates Air Force. He had just begun his service and was stationed at Hurlburt Field AFB, in Fort Walton, Fla., and on temporary training assignment in San Antonio, Texas, when he passed away on August 26, 2017.

His ambition to serve Christ also had become strengthened in his years at UC. He served in many volunteer roles, everything from parking duty attendant to worship group leader with the student ministry at Crossroads Church. He was a young man who was disciplined and dedicated to living a life of honor and to overcoming any life obstacle while supporting others in doing the same.

Q: Why did you decide to honor his memory with a fund at The Dayton Foundation?

A: Upon Nick’s passing, people shared with us their stories of Nick. He was the kind of friend who would be there for you in times of trouble, but who also would follow up with your family to see how they were doing even long after the immediate challenge was over. Some people told us about how Nick’s unwavering faith led them to bring Christ into their lives, and how he stood by them through the toughest of times. One of his USAF colleagues told us how a few of the new Lieutenants had not passed a grueling exercise. Nick, who had completed the task, suited up and re-took the test with them so that they would not have to face it alone. In all that he did, he was led by his faith and desire to be his best self, while lifting up others to do the same. The ripple effects of his love and caring will last well beyond his years with us on earth.

By starting this fund we hope to honor and carry on his legacy of impacting lives by helping young people in their journey to serve Christ by caring for others.

Q: What is the purpose of Nick’s fund?

A: The fund will support students who need financial assistance so that they may serve on Christian mission trips. Each young person who has the opportunity to serve in this capacity has unlimited potential to make a positive difference in the lives of others. Unfortunately, there are some who would like to serve on mission trips but are not able to raise the funds necessary to participate. We hope to eliminate this obstacle for as many young people as possible. One of Nick’s favorite quotes was from the movie Gladiator, “What we do in life will echo in eternity.” The more lives one can touch in the spirit of giving, the more lives they will inspire to do the same.

Q: Did he have a favorite mission trip experience?

A: One of Nick’s favorite life experiences was the mission trip that he took to Nicaragua during his senior year at college. He surpassed his fundraising goal and used the additional funds to help others who had struggled to raise the money to participate. While on the trip, he expressed how he had never felt closer to God. While the group’s days were filled with exhausting work, including digging trenches and wells to provide a clean water supply for an impoverished region, they were rewarded by the townspeople who expressed tremendous gratitude.

Nick realized how much he had been blessed in his own life, how many of the most basic resources he had were taken for granted, and how much he could do to help others through simple of acts of compassion. While he was an incredibly dedicated and active follower of Christ before the trip, he came back a changed young man who was more fulfilled in His love than ever before.

Q: Why did you choose The Dayton Foundation for Nick’s fund?

A: We’ve known about The Dayton Foundation for many years through friends who have honored lost loved ones through charitable funds or scholarships. The Foundation is a wonderful resource and offers an easy and well-managed charitable platform to establish a giving plan.

Q: How to you plan to grow the fund?

A: We will continue to share Nick’s story, not only to keep his memory alive but also to inspire people to seek the happiness that comes from serving and supporting those in need. We hope that there are others who will share in the same goal to help young people who want to serve Christ by caring for the needs of others, both domestically and abroad. While we work to develop organized fundraisers, some of Nick’s closest friends are raising funds in his honor and have asked individuals to sponsor them as they train to reach a goal that Nick encouraged them to achieve.

Q: What advice can you share about giving to the community?

A: We all hope to live in a world of thoughtful, compassionate, caring and generous people, and where others will go out of their way to do something to help without a feeling of obligation or direct gain. We can create this kind of a world, and it starts with us, right here, in our own community.

As we support one another and are generous with our time, talents and resources, we strengthen a community that can grow and do the same for other communities. The contributions that are made have the same unlimited potential to grow and have a ripple effect well beyond the initial gift.

Q: How would you complete this sentence, “My giving makes me feel____”?

A: … like we are making a difference. It’s often said that a life well lived has impact well beyond the person’s years on earth. That was the kind of life Nick lived, and it’s absolutely the kind of life we hope to emulate.