After 16-Year-Old Son Dies, Mother Fights to Keep America’s Children Safe On Travel Programs Abroad
Sheryl Hill is an outspoken and eloquent advocate. Her Cause is Clear – keep America’s children and students safe on programs abroad – a $17 billion (and growing) federally unregulated industry. Sheryl, and her husband Allen, are founders of ClearCause Foundation.
In June of 2007, the Hills thought they were giving their sixteen year old son, Tyler, the opportunity of a lifetime. That dream turned into every parent’s nightmare. Vibrant, athletic, intelligent, tender-hearted, 6’ 2” and 215 pound Tyler died full of his future half a world away on a People to People Student Ambassador’s trip to Japan in 2007. His death was 100% preventable.
The Hills did not expect to hear from hundreds of families calling for help when they launched www.tylerhill.org to inform and engage the public about Tyler’s death and the lack of federal guidelines, oversight, minimum qualifications, standards, sanctions or transparent public reporting on the safety record of organizations taking our children and students on programs abroad.
Sheryl has hosted eight international students over a period of twelve years, four girls and four boys, from Finland, Sweden, France, South Africa, Germany, Japan, Chile and Brazil. She knows firsthand how challenging and rewarding cultural exchange and global travel can be and how badly the industry needs to be held at the highest standards with transparency and mandated standards. Our kids, our future, deserve to be protected from the abuse, rape, death, and more that occur on programs abroad.
ClearCause Foundation is developing traveling youth and student standards of safety, or TYS SOS. TYS SOS will become a safety certification program, and mobile app, providing America’s children and students with skills and tools to help them select safe programs, prepare for a safe and rewarding experiences abroad, and take appropriate actions to advocate for themselves when threatened overseas. TYS SOS will provide a rating on student preparedness. Click on the “Stay Safe” tab of their website. ClearCause is calling for advocates to join in and sign a petition asking for protections when our kids and students go abroad on programs. There is an awareness social media campaign on facebook.com/clearcause and twitter.com/clearcause. Please spread the word about ClearCause Foundation’s Simple Truth, in honor of all young Americans who died full of their future abroad. Your financial support is tax deductible and greatly appreciated.
Sheryl, or ‘Sher’ to friends, was born in San Antonio, Texas to a mother of Choctaw heritage. Sher’s mom is the only child out of twelve who earned a high school education. Sher is the only child out of four with a college degree. Her family grew up poor. Her mom, Beatrice, was a single mother with four kids who got by in Texas as a field hand, cotton picker and waitress when they were small. Beatrice met her soul mate – Art, when Sher was five. Art rescued them from dirt floors, wrapped them in love and stability, and moved them far, far away.
Sheryl’s ‘real’ dad, Art, was a welder and a truck driver who followed pipeline work. First they moved to Colorado, then to Alaska’s off shore oil rigs, then to the Colorado Rockies and back to Alaska’s Alyeska pipeline. Sheryl’s mom and dad are buried together under the midnight sky in Kasilof, Alaska.
Sheryl met her soul mate, Allen, in Anchorage in 1983. They relocated to Minnesota, married and started their family. First Tyler in 1991, then his little brother Alec in 1995. Tyler died at 16, Alec is in his sixteenth year.
Sheryl holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Saint Mary’s University in Minneapolis. She has worked as an award-winning major markets information technology account manager within the healthcare industry for Fortune 500 companies like Honeywell Information Systems and US West. Her boys told her they needed her at home a few years before Tyler passed. She honored their request, fulfilling her role as an accomplished grant writer, nonprofit consultant and philanthropic advocate for homeless children, food shelves, diabetes and education.
Sheryl is a world-class speaker and award-winning author of Walking on Sunshine, NRG – A Divine Transformation, a spiritual memoir. Her book is not your everyday book about grief. It inspires and helps the reader unfurl from a fog of grief so thick that light cannot penetrate with evidence of life after death. Her book is a USA Book News award-winning finalist helping bereaved people move beyond compassion to hope and promise.
You can find Sheryl supporting women entrepreneurs at Women, Wisdom & Wine, Horizon 100, American Pen Women, World Speakers and more when she is not cheering for her hockey goalie son, exercising, writing or advocating for safety for America’s children.