Rose Parade Float Honors NE Ohio Organ Donor

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SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio— The annual Tournament of Roses parade in California held a deeper meaning and purpose for a northeast Ohio family touched by tragedy four years ago.

An estimated 47 million people watched as the "Donate Life" float rolled through Pasadena, California in the 2012 Rose Parade.

"Anya being a donor, we thought we would sponsor her this year to be a floragraph and as a way to honor her and then also promote minority organ and tissue transplantation," said Roschelle Ogbuji.

Fourteen-month-old Anya Ogbuji and her two older sisters died when their Shaker Heights home caught fire in 2007.

Anya was on life-support for several days before she died. Her parents decided to make her an organ donor.

"There is nothing that would've brought Anya back, I mean, there was nothing, so to be able to give that hope to another family has brought tremendous healing," said Ogbuji.

The float includes floral images of 72 organ donors from around the world, including Anya.

Hers was created from one of the last photos taken of her on Halloween, about a month before she died.

"I don't get anymore pictures, I don't get a 7th picture, I don't get a graduation picture, and so it was, for me, taking an older picture and bringing new life to it," said Ogbuji.

The girl's mother, Roschelle Ogbuji, said it was therapeutic to watch her daughter come to life in organic materials like flowers, seeds and coffee beans.

"I joked around, I used to call her my little mocha baby and I said, wow, I didn't realize that you were medium roast blend," she joked.

Roschelle said minorities make up a large part of the number of people needing organs.

She hopes this float will bring attention to that and encourage people to be organ donors.

"In that time and in that moment, you're not expecting to make those decisions, that's why you need to talk about it ahead of time, that's why you need to have those discussions, you need to talk about it and you need to kind of find out where do you stand when it comes to giving life," she said.

Ogbuji has since had two more daughters.

Roschelle Ogbuji and her husband created a foundation called "All the Kingdom Kids" shortly after their daughters died.

She said the goal is to raise money to help children realize their dreams.

Next year the foundation will sponsor another northeast Ohio minority family to attend the Rose Parade to honor a loved one who was an organ donor.

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