By Conrad Dudderar
A Yukon family is preparing to make memories of a lifetime after their daughter was selected for a memorial honor at the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day.
The daughter of Yukon’s Royce and Keri Young was chosen as LifeShare of Oklahoma’s floragraph honoree to represent Oklahoma on the “Donate Life” Rose Parade Float on Jan. 1, 2020 in Pasadena, Calif.
Eva Young will be featured among 44 memorial floral portraits, honoring the gift of life and light given by organ, eye and tissue donors.
The work of LifeShare of Oklahoma and the efforts of the Young family were recognized during a Floragraph Honoree Ceremony on Dec. 5 at Covenant Community Church, 2250 S Yukon Parkway.
The honor of having their late daughter memorialized on the Donate for Life float evokes both extreme joy and sadness, Royce Young said.
“This is the way Keri and I can honor Eva and keep her living in a lot of people’s hearts and minds,” Royce said. “She’s not here, but her memory can live on.
“If we didn’t embrace these kind of things – as difficult and emotional as they can be – then we wouldn’t be doing our job as her parents.”
The Youngs’ daughter Eva was born April 16, 2017 and became a tissue donor that day. While Keri Young was pregnant, she and her husband learned their baby would not survive due to a condition called anencephaly.
The Youngs decided to continue the pregnancy to term with the intent of donating the baby’s organs.
“It was a very big driving force for us to continue Eva’s pregnancy,” said Keri Young, thanking LifeShare for helping her family experience having a daughter.
The Youngs chose to name their daughter “Eva Grace,” which means “giver of life.”
At 37 weeks, Eva’s heart stopped beating so she couldn’t be an organ donation.
Shortly after Eva was delivered, the Taylors learned she could donate her eyes. For the family, it was a true moment of grace learning that Eva would be able to restore sight to others.
Eva’s parents described members of the LifeShare organization as loving, kind and respectful.
THE GIFT OF LIFE
“Eva Young is among a broad group of people from around the United States who have given the gift of life as organ, eye and tissue donors,” said Jeffrey Orlowski, president and Chief Executive Officer of LifeShare of Oklahoma.
“It’s a special community and the Youngs are going to get to be close with those other 43 families. They’re going to make memories of a lifetime meeting those folks. It’s an amazing experience for them.”
The 2020 Rose Parade float shares the Power of Hope by highlighting Southeast Asia’s Festival of Lights, a celebration of light shining in darkness. An artist rendering of the float was on display at the Dec. 5th ceremony in Yukon.
“The concept behind the float is that, through donation, we provide light to people who are in need and in darkness due to illness,” Orlowski said. “Donor families provide light through their actions.
“We are excited about this year’s float and we think it’s going to be beautiful and a great experience.”
While in California at the Rose Parade, the Young family will meet 18 organ, eye and tissue recipients who will be seated on the Donate Life float.
These people’s lives have been changed through the generosity of donor families, Orlowski said.
Living donors will hold flowers and walk alongside the New Year’s Day float.
Orlowski described how participants in the Donate for Life Rose Parade float simultaneously laugh and cry “many times during this experience.”
“You’ll have joy and you’ll have sorrow,” he said. “You’ll have emotions and you’ll have bonding throughout the course of the four days.
“It’s an amazing thing. It’s a celebration of life. It’s a celebration of the gift of life.”