SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The Rose Bowl Parade will feature a special honor for a Rancho Bernardo 2-year-old whose life was cut short.
Leia Parker died in a swimming accident in 2019. Following the tragic incident, her parents decided to donate her organs through the organization Lifesharing. Leia helped to save the lives of three people, donating her heart, liver, and kidneys, and her corneas gave sight to two women through the donation.
During the famed Rose Bowl Parade, Leia and 20 other organ donors will be honored for their help saving lives in a floral parade sculpture sponsored by Lifesharing. Though the parade will not be held live this year, it will be televised with special segments, including one for Leia.
"I think it was brilliant of Donate Life to do this, this year. To not stop the tradition, to not stop the message. Just because we have a pandemic, does not mean people do not need organs," said. Robert Miller, president of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association.
The float, called "Community of Life," features a floral honeycomb with the portraits of Leia and other organ donors. The honeycomb and bees are meant to symbolize the importance of working together.
Leia's mother told ABC 10News in November that her daughter was a fearless rebel — much like the "Star Wars" princess she was named after.
"Princess Leia was my favorite Star Wars character, and she was one of my bigger role models. So I wanted my daughter to have a name that represented all those things that meant a lot to me," Tihani Parker said.
Parker said she is extremely proud of her daughter and the impact she has had on others.
"As a grieving parent, you just want to find meaning, and I believe everything happens for a reason," says Parker. "I am extremely proud that my daughter has changed the lives of five people, and she has given a second chance and new hope to others."
A two-hour Rose Bowl Parade special will be televised on New Year’s Day at 8 a.m. on ABC 10.