Dillon Mueller Memorial Fund Helps Save Lives
This story about the death of Dillon Mueller of Wisconsin reminds us of Ruthie T. Cornell, our founder Jon Terry’s sister. She also died from a bee sting and did not know she was allergic. Like George and Angel Mueller, we have worked tirelessly to have legislation enacted. We want everyone from bus drivers to first responders and restaurant workers to have access to non-patient specific epinephrine. And just like Dillon’s parents, we conduct training sessions for anyone who wants to learn what to do in an anaphylaxis emergency and how to use an epinephrine auto-injector (EAI) device. Dillon’s family knows of at least 7 people whose lives were saved because of their efforts.
Dillon Mueller Memorial Fund Helps Save Lives
Fund Helps Increase Availability of Epinephrine in Wisconsin
By Kristen Stewart
May 14th, 2020
By the time he turned 18 years old, Dillon Mueller of Mishicot, Wisconsin had already spent years making an impression on his family, friends, and community.
He was an award-winning dirt bike racer since the age of 6, an Eagle Scout, and a member of Future Farmers of America. He was so beloved the crowd chanted "Do It for Dillon" to raise the bids when he volunteered his services at a fundraising auction. He made a difference in quieter ways too. He showed a genuine interest in others and befriended everyone at school from the autistic kids to the quarterback to the teachers. He was also the first in line to help anyone in need. "Even though he was in his barn clothes, if somebody wanted help, he'd be off and running with cow poop still on his shoes," remembers his mother Angel.
The youngest of Angel and her husband George's three sons, Dillon was supposed to be the seventh generation to run their family farm. Instead he is leaving a different kind of legacy — one of donated organs and as the inspiration for the Dillon Mueller Memorial Fund which works tirelessly to provide greater access to epinephrine in Wisconsin and around the country.
In 2014 Dillon was helping a friend with yard work when he was stung by a bee. No one knew he was allergic but he quickly felt something was wrong. His friend who was also an Eagle Scout called 9-1-1 and performed CPR. When the volunteer first responders from their community arrived they took over but neither his friend nor the medical personnel had on hand what he really needed—epinephrine.
After being deprived of oxygen for 30 to 45 minutes, Dillon spent a week in a coma in the hospital before he was taken off life support. While this time was incredibly difficult for his loved ones it gave them a chance to see what a difference Dillon had made in so many people's lives. Every night the hospital would fill with students, parents, teachers, coaches, and others from the community there to support Dillon and his family. Over 1,400 people attended his funeral.
Angel believes her faith played an important role in getting her through and showing her the next steps. "Because I have a super strong faith and a positive outlook, I could be the strong one in the room through it all," she said. Her sister-in-law reminded her God was in charge and she realized very quickly she had the chance to make a difference. "It was hell and we didn't want any other family to go through something like this."
Throughout his life Dillon was very compassionate and giving. His charitable nature continued in death through his decision to register as an organ donor. Thanks to Dillon two men in Wisconsin received the gift of sight and over 20 people across the country received bone and tissue including a man who received a complete right hip replacement. "In the initial months, that was our saving grace that we knew he was helping people," remembers Angel. However, Dillon’s parents wanted to do more.
Angel and George set up the non-profit 501c3 Dillon Mueller Memorial Fund to do everything they could to prevent a similar tragedy from happening to someone else. The key was to make epinephrine more widely available.
Angel began by sharing her story wherever she could and believes God put all the right people in her path. At a Lion's Club meeting she met a doctor who had almost lost a patient to anaphylaxis years prior and wanted to join in their effort. Her local assemblyman was at another talk she gave and was quick to come aboard as well.
Three years after Dillon's death Dillon's Law was passed in the state of Wisconsin. It expanded on an existing law to allow trained individuals to carry epinephrine and administer it to someone in need, free of personal liability.
The bill flew through the legislative process and at the time in 2017 it held the record for fastest law from submission to the governor's signature. "It was logical, lifesaving, and a common-sense kind of thing," says Angel. "We didn't have any challenge whatsoever to the law." Since then Minnesota has passed a similar law, Indiana is working on one and Angel is engaged in getting similar legislation passed nationwide.
One of the key aspects to Dillon's Law is that to carry epinephrine individuals must be specially trained. Angel and George became approved by the Wisconsin Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons to use their curriculum and teach anyone and everyone who wants to learn from Boy Scout troops and high school groups to childcare centers, fire departments, and more. In 2019 they personally trained 611 people.
They have also seen gratifying results. To date the law has saved at least seven people including a motocross racer like Dillon. A 67-year-old beekeeper who didn’t know he was allergic to bee venom was also saved. The latter is particularly significant as it shows anyone can develop an allergy to anything at any point in their lives — this fact makes having epinephrine readily available even more important for everyone.
Each year they hold the Dillon Mueller Memorial Hare Scramble Race as a fundraiser and sell T-shirts and other small items at the epinephrine administration classes they teach. They also take donations from individuals and businesses.
Money raised goes back into their efforts. The Fund offers at least two scholarships each year to high school seniors seeking to further their education and help their communities. It also allows them to teach their classes at no cost and to offer a discounted price on the purchase of epinephrine auto-injectors to certain groups like local fire departments. Finally, it helps in their work to make Dillon's Law nationwide.
To learn more about Dillon and the Dillon Mueller Memorial Fund, visit https://epifordilly.com/
For anyone looking to support the expansion of epinephrine availability, donations can be mailed to the address below or made through the website.
Dillon Mueller Memorial Fund
2205 E. County Hwy. V
Mishicot, WI 54228