Using flowers and other organic materials, Shantee Broussard put the finishing touches on her son’s portrait.
"Just bringing this, you know, paper into something that looks alive, it was a wonderful experience,” Shantee told NBC 7.
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On Saturday, her son Robby Barkdale's face will be among those lining the Donate Life Rose Parade Float in Pasadena. California. The float is an annual tribute to people who have saved lives through organ donation.
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“It's been it's been really nice,” said Robert Barksdale, Robby’s father. “They've been honoring him since pretty much late September. So it's been really nice.”
Barksdale, 19, was on his way back to his Navy base when he got into a motorcycle crash in 2018
“I saw him that night,” Shantee said. “He gave me a big hug and told me how happy he was that he's making music, and he let me listen to the song and then hugged and kissed me, and I told him, 'Text me as soon as you make it there.' ”
Robby suffered a fatal brain injury.
“So when they told me that, you know, he was just basically living off of the support of the machines and that once they turn off the machines, he was no longer going to be with us," Shantee said. "We had to make the decision if we wanted him to donate [his organs]."
With the help of Lifesharing, a San Diego-based nonprofit that coordinates organ donations, Robby was able to save five lives by donating his heart, kidneys, lungs, liver and pancreas.
“It just makes us feel really good that, you know, Robby is still saving people even after, you know, his passing,” Robert said. “He's still, you know — his life is still going on.”
The Barksdale family has turned their loss into hope for others.
The 2022 Donate Life Rose Parade Float is called Courage to Hope and celebrates the courage of organ donors and their families.