Denise Dador | KABC 7 Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- On New Year's Day, the nation will see a special float bearing the image of a local girl who died in a dog attack. In the midst of personal tragedy, her family found a way to think of others.
Her gift is now being honored in a unique way. A florograph of 5-year-old Katya Todesco will ride on the Donate Life Rose Parade float.
In September of 2008, the young Simi Valley girl tripped on a neighbor's pitbull. The dog bit her on the face and neck. She died a few days later from her injuries.
"When you are experiencing so much loss like Katya's family experience, recognizing that somewhere in this loss there's a gift to be given to somebody is profound," said Eric Carr, manager of hospital services at OneLegacy. "I think it really represents the holiday season better than any example I can probably think of."
Seven-year-old Kyle Martin of Mission Viejo received Katya's heart. Kyle added his part to Katya's florograph. This gesture reminds everyone that through her family's generosity, Katya's heart and memory lives on.
"We are so thankful for the gift they have given us for life for our son, but to be able to celebrate her life for us, it's huge. It's a huge blessing," said Lina Martin, Kyle's mom.
The organ procurement agency for Southern California, OneLegacy, says more than 100,000 Americans are waiting for organs. Twenty percent of them are from California yet only 10 percent of donated organs come from our state.
Katya's mom didn't hesitate. It's a privilege recipient families, like Kyle's, don't take lightly.
"When we know the reality that another family will be grieving during that time it's something that you carry with you and it's pretty heavy," said Lina Martin.
Katya's florograph is made completely of flowers and natural materials. On New Year's Day, Kyle hopes Katya's gift will plant a seed of awareness in the hearts of others.
Besides Kyle, Katya was able to help three others. Her kidneys and liver went on to benefit two other children and an adult.