Shane was diagnosed with leukemia in April 1994. He went into remission for eighteen months but relapsed several times before a bone marrow transplant in the summer of 1996. The stress of chemotherapy and the disease affected his major organs extensively, and he died on September 30, 1996.
Shane was born on May 5, 1980. He found pleasure in reading at an early age, and in the first grade he joined the cub scouts and later moved up to the boy scouts. Shane became a member of the Tae Kwon Do, Korean Martial Arts of Parkersburg at age eleven, advancing to a green belt with a brown tip. Upon his death, he was given an honorary black belt degree for showing the true meaning of the martial arts. During his school years, Shane excelled in school, especially in the sciences. Art was also an interest for Shane. He enjoyed drawing and designing robots and even made his own comic books. Shane wanted to be a research scientist, as well as design and develop characters for video games and design and build robots.
Throughout Shane's illness, the community supported him and his family in countless ways. For example, a bone marrow drive for Shane resulted in 500 names being added to the national bone marrow data bank. In appreciation, Jim and Connie Gilbert wanted to express their deep gratitude to the community who supported them in their time of need. "We can only hope," said Shane's parents, "that in establishing this foundation we will be able to help some of those who gave to us so unselfishly."