CHRISTINA HOAG | The Huffington
Mikey, now 13, and his mom Shaheda Wright thanked the Hernandez family in person Wednesday in a rare meeting between a donor family and an organ recipient.
"We just want to say to you that if it wasn't for your decision at tough time in your life, my son wouldn't be here today," Wright said.
"You don't have to thank me," said Johnny' s mother, Christine Hernandez, tears spilling down her cheeks. "It was a gift from God."
Mikey and his mom, who live in Oakland, arrived in Pasadena for Saturday's Rose Parade, in which Mikey will represent the California Transplant Donor Network on the "Donate Life" float. The float, titled "Seize the Day," will feature 30 organ recipients and the portraits of 60 donors made out of flowers.
The Hernandez relatives, who live around inland Southern California, came to Mikey's hotel to meet him with photos of Johnny and a DVD of his funeral service. There were tears aplenty, but also some laughs.
"Do you feel Mexican at all now?" Denise Leyva, Johnny's aunt, asked Mikey. "Are you getting sudden cravings for tacos?"
J.R. Aranda, one of Johnny's close friends, related that Johnny was such a fan of the Oakland Raiders, he had the team's insignia tattooed on his upper arm – unbeknownst to his mother.
Mikey, also a diehard Raiders follower, said he wants to get one in the same place. "Kid, wait a minute," his mother cautioned. Instead, Aranda presented Mikey a blanket with the team symbol on it.