‘It just rips your heart out’: Belton community mourns loss of man who made big impact

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BELTON, Mo. -- The Belton community is coming together in grief after losing a man who truly made a difference. Now, they're helping Troy Shaw's legacy live on.

"He just always called it stupid cancer," Shaw's mom Tina Hickam said.

Stupid cancer took Shaw's life after a two-year, on-and-off battle with melanoma.

"He wasn't my youngest, but he was my baby," Hickam said crying, "and it kind of tears part of your heart out."

Hickam said Shaw didn't have kids of his own, but he took care of thousands in the Belton School District. He worked in the technology and security department.

"He had a heart full of love," Hickam said, fighting back tears, "especially for the children at the school district."

He started working at the district the day after he graduated from high school. Thursday's board of education meeting started with a moment of silence for Shaw.

"He was a little bit of everything to everybody," Belton High School teacher Mary Cummings said.

She was on the board of Belton CARES, a nonprofit Shaw was a part of for more than a decade. He headed the organization the last two years.

"Everything he did was through his heart," Cummings said. "I mean, he was a very logical, sequential person. But when he got in the moment with what we did with Belton CARES, it was all through his heart."

It was his heart that led him to become a reserve officer with the Belton Police Department.

"He took his job to the next level so he could provide best service to the school district and the community," Belton Police Dept. Lt. Dan Davis said.

Shaw found out he had skin cancer after getting hit by an air-soft pellet during active shooter training. When what he thought was a bruise didn't go away, he got it checked out.

The dermatologist said it was melanoma.

"His whole life revolved around the betterment of others," Davis said. "People like that are extremely rare. There will be no replacement for Troy Shaw."

So the school district, police department and his family are continuing his legacy through Belton CARES, educating people about the pain skin cancer can bring into a family and an entire community.

"It just rips your heart out," Hickam said. "I'm gonna help that because I don't want any other family to have to go through what we went through."

Shaw's celebration of life will be held on what would be his 41st birthday, Sept. 7. It starts at 1 p.m. at Belton High School.

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