OSAGE, Iowa --- When a driver ran a red light in Des Moines, Jermiah Dosser paid the price. He died a few days short of his 25th birthday.
Dosser's story continued beyond that day in March 2007, however. His parents, Rick and Jody Dosser of Osage, let authorities know their son supported organ donation, and doctors subsequently harvested Jermiah's corneas and other tissue.
"It was listed on his driver's license that he was a donor, but they didn't look at his driver's license because they were trying to save his life," Jody said.
Jody, a coach at Waldorf College, that same year and again in 2008 organized Donor Awareness Week. As a result, when a colleague's mother-in-law died, the woman's family offered to help another instructor's husband. He was ailing and needed a transplant.
"Their prayers for divine intervention were answered with a resulting liver match," Jody said.
The Dossers' ongoing commitment to the Iowa Donor Network and to the cause will be recognized in a unique way Jan. 1. An image of Jermiah, composed of petals, seeds and other natural materials, will be one of 60 "floragraphs" on the 2011 Donate Life float. The creation will roll out New Year's Day during the Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif.
The float will follow a theme -- Seize the Day -- and images of the organ donors will grace the tails of brightly colored kites. This year's float will be the eighth sponsored by OneLegacy and the third to integrate images of organ and tissue donors, according to spokesman Bryan Stewart.
"It's become a standard now each year," he said.
OneLegacy, a nonprofit organ and tissue recovery agency based in Los Angeles, acted on an idea in 2001. Gary Foxen, a lung transplant recipient and a float decorator, suggested an entry in the Rose Parade would be a nice way to express his appreciation and to encourage other donors.
Rick and Jody Dosser will travel from their winter home in Arizona this weekend to California, where they and more than a dozen family members will help create Jermiah's floragraph.
"We want to look at this as being a happy thing because he was a terrific kid, a terrific young man," Jody said.
Not every family, though, can make the trip to Pasadena. In those situations, OneLegacy sends the unfinished floragraph to them, according to Stewart. Events are planned in 37 communities, where loved ones will complete the image and then send it back to California.
"We take the experience to them," Stewart said.
Jody and another Iowan, Jane Jorgensen of Ames, will receive another honor as well. They were selected to also ride on the float. Jorgensen's husband, Tom, received a liver transplant in 1989 and a kidney in 2005. After his death later that year, Tom Jorgensen in turn donated his corneas.
Jody anticipates Jan. 1 will bring mixed emotions as she and her husband share their son with a wider audience.
"I know both of us are going to have a lot of tears," she said. " ... There's not a day that goes by that we don't think of him and cry.
"We have more smiles, but we still have tears ... I guess that's part of our journey."