He was accidentally killed while cleaning his gun. Now this organization wants to make sure it never happens again.

Ryan (Source: Saving Lives Through Ryan)
Ryan (Source: Saving Lives Through Ryan)

LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - As we get ready for Midlands Gives, we are focusing on one organization dedicated to save lives through teaching gun safety.

The organization "Saving Lives Through Ryan" gets its name from Ryan Heilman. Heilman went to Dutch Fork High School and was a volunteer firefighter for the Columbia Fire Department.

In 2013, Ryan accidentally shot himself while cleaning his gun. The organization founded a year after his death is keeping his memory alive by making sure everyone both young and old knows his story.

One of the ways they are reaching out to children is through a simple game. The game involves shooting cans with a toy gun. Before they play, Stacy Mink, one of the founders, explains gun safety to a child.

"Seeing us at events like this, we've had children even today that have said, I remember you guys and I remember what to do if I see a gun so it's been very rewarding," said Mink.

One of those helped by Saving Lives through Ryan is Rachel Johansen. Her children, through opportunities like the "Eddie Eagle Gun Safe Program," have all learned about gun safety.

"It made me a lot more comfortable about having a firearm in our home," said Johansen.

The Johansen family was proactive, but Mink said some might not take those steps at all.

"People don't always think about gun safety rules because there's such a controversy about guns in general that people want to avoid the subject," said Mink.

The organization's mission is to not avoid the subject of gun safety -- for their namesake and for the kids.

"Children need to understand gun safety regardless if there's a gun in their home, or not, because they could go to a neighbor's house or a cousin's house," said Mink.

Stacy says as an organization, they've been able to teach thousands about gun safety through annual community events and seminars.

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