Even small gifts change lives

Pay It Forward

Spreading Kindness ’Round the Cul de Sac

After he’d been diagnosed with a rare disease, one man’s health would plummet with a common cold, and he’d be added to the donor list for a lung transplant. During his health battle, the community would rally around him to take care of his family and home while he recovered.

“This is a big thing for us, and it meant a lot for us. I believe it helped my recovery – one less burden we had to worry about.” – Shannon Mohn, recipient

Bell Employee

Sue Boen, records services manager

Fargo, N.D.



Mohn family

Fargo, N.D.


The Need

For some, catching a cold would be a minor setback, requiring a day off work or a few extra tissues. That just wasn’t the case for Shannon Mohn.

Years ago, Shannon was diagnosed with a rare disease called scleroderma, which involves the hardening and tightening of skin and connective tissues.

“In 2012, we went to a doctor appointment, and they said, ‘Bad news. The scleroderma has manifested itself into pulmonary fibrosis,’” Shannon explains. “And they said, ‘You will need a lung transplant at some point.’”

For the next 7 years, Shannon would manage to get life out of his existing lungs – until he caught a common cold in October 2018 that would test his health still further.

“I had to go on oxygen, and I had to go on disability – spending more time in the hospital, I think, than out of the hospital,” he says.

And just like that, the news the family never wanted to hear unfolded before them.

“I was put on the (donor) list on February 11, and I got my call on April 22 at 3:29 in the morning,” Shannon says.

“It didn’t seem real until it actually happened. We were lucky to be able to wake Emily up and let her know that we were going,” says Shannon’s wife, Tracy, of their daughter. “She put thumbs up, we took a picture, and she went back to bed.”


The Impact

Living in the Mohns’ neighborhood, Bell Bank records services manager Sue Boen knew the family pretty well.

“He’s the ‘king of the cul de sac’ – everybody knows him. If you need something, that’s who you go to,” Sue says. “You would have never known he was as sick as he was.”

When the community learned of Shannon’s health difficulties, they banded together to help in any way they could.

“People in our neighborhood were mowing our yard and moving our snow, taking care of things and watching over our house,” Shannon says

Confirming with her husband that Shannon’s cause was the perfect opportunity to pay it forward, Sue made a visit to the Mohns’ home.

“I said, ‘You know what? I work for this amazing company, Bell Bank, and today’s your day. I’d love to pay it forward to you,’” Sue explains. “’I’ve been sharing your story with some of my colleagues, and we’ve pooled some money together to help you. And we hope that you will graciously take this check for $9,250.’”

Gasping in surprise, Shannon took a few minutes to gather himself.

“He just said, ‘Wow, there’s truly wonderful people in this world, isn’t there? We need this. Thank you so much,’” Sue recalls.

Just 3 days after his transplant, Shannon was transferred out of intensive care, and 13 days later, he walked out of the hospital on his own.

“I believe it helped my recovery – one less burden we had to worry about,” Shannon says. “It has been nothing but a positive after another, after another, after another. And life is different now, but I’m not back doing things I haven’t done in 10 years.”

Like many others, Shannon’s 7-year-old daughter, Emily, was excited to have him home.

“I think it’s fun because when he got back home, I decorated the house for him,” she says.

Among other blessings, perhaps the one that Shannon cherishes most is the opportunity to live another day, week or even years.

“I’ll get to see (Emily) get married and graduate from high school and college – and be a grandpa someday. So that makes it all worth it,” he says.

Through the Pay It Forward program, Bell gives employees money each year to donate to people and causes they care about.

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