BAKERSFIELD, CA – “Donate Life” facilitates organ, tissue and eye donations, saving about six-thousand lives every year. This is the 12th year the organization will have a float at the Pasadena Rose Parade honoring the memory of people who have donated their organs. This year two Bakersfield families will honor their loved one at the parade.
The Dhanens lost their son, Phillip, in 2012 in a hazing incident at Fresno State University Fraternity house. They say their annual tamale feast has not been the same. Paul Dhanens is Phillip’s dad he says Phillip was always the life of the party. “He was a very gregarious, outgoing, charismatic kid, so the energy he brought to the family was unique to him and it’s not there anymore, so, it’s difficult” said Dhanens.
But Phillip’s legacy lives on through the five organs his parents donated when he passed. This year Phillip will be honored at the Rose Parade, with a floragraph portrait on the Donate Life float.
Lori Malkin is the founder of JJ’s Legacy, a local non-profit educating Kern County residents about become registered organ and tissue donors. The organization sponsors families to participate in the Rose Parade. “When they created the float 12 years ago, they have florographs of the deceased donors of their eye tissue or organ donors, what they do is take the replica of their picture and then they decorate it with all natural organic materials, and then they put the portrait on the float” said Malkin.
Phillip’s mother Diane said Phillip’s closest family, friends and high school sweetheart helped with the floragraph before sending it to be installed on the float. “Here we are actually making an effort to look at his eyebrows, his teeth his eyes, and it was difficult at times, but then it was fun because we would say i don’t think his nose is like that” said Diane.
Phillip’s Floragraph will ride alongside another donor, three-year-old Jaidyn Rothermel, who drowned in 2011. Jaidyn’s father Doug said that they miss her very much and working on the Floragraph was therapeutic. “Being able to be down in Pasadena working on her floragraph with Hannah, that helps with the grief though so i feel incredibly blessed to have done that” said Rothermel.
Both families encourage others to register as a donors. “There is over one hundred and 22 thousand people waiting for a life saving transplant right now so its something that its so great to be able to give back” said Malkin.