8-Year-Old Organ Donor To Be Honored At Rose Parade

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HASLET (CBS 11 NEWS) – Five-year-old twins Graci and Cash never got a chance to meet their older brother, Dakota.

“We would say our bedtime prayers and Dakota would pray for a brother and sister,” says his mom Kelly Johnston.

“Thirteen months later we have twins,” father Steve explained.

The twins were born 13 months after Dakota passed away. In 2008, after a fishing trip, the child collapsed in the driveway of his home.

“He had an arteriovenous malformation in his brain,” says his mom. The undiagnosed condition cut his life short. He died just a day before Mother’s Day.

Six years later, the twins’ little hands add finishing touches to a floragraph bearing their older brother’s smiling face.

“They didn’t know him, but its like they do. They’re talking about him all the time,” says Kelly.

But he gave the gift of life to five people. Thanks to him a little boy in Houston, Joshua Valdez got a much needed liver transplant.

“It wasn’t a hard decision at all. We knew he’d want to do that.”

It’s why the floragraph, along with those of more than 70 other organ and tissue donors will have a special spot on this year’s Donate Life float at the 2015 Rose Parade.

“In Texas alone, about 13,000 people are waiting on lifesaving organs,” says Laura Davis, director of communications for Life Gift.

The theme of the float this year is “A Neverending Story.” Every flower petal, seed and stem has been meticulously crafted into a vibrant symbol of donors’ sacrifices. Sixty butterflies fly over the float, for the number of lives that can be touched by a single donor.

In Haslet, a happy boy, who loved helping others leaves behind his never-ending story. Speaking of his son, proud father Steve said, “Six years later and he’s still helping people.”

The organization Dignity Memorial is flying the Johnston family to Pasadena, California so they can be there on the big day. The family hopes it will encourage the millions watching the Rose Parade to register to be an organ donor.

Click here to find out more about becoming an organ donor from Donate Life Texas.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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