2 Tennesseeans To Be Honored As Floragraph Honorees On the Donate Life Float In The Rose Parade

Thursday, December 27, 2012
Lexie Davis
Lexie Davis

Two Tennesseans will be honored as floragraphs (floral memorial portraits) on the Donate Life Rose Parade float. Lexie Davis of Memphis and Jessie Starnes, of Chattanooga will appear on the Donate Life Rose Parade float among other organ, eye and tissue donors who in their death, saved, healed and gave hope to thousands of people in need.

Lexie Davis

Organ and Tissue Donor

Age 17 ~ Memphis 

Donated on Aug. 3, 2011

Honored by Mid-South Transplant Foundation

After being diagnosed with epilepsy at age eight, Lexie Davis suffered seizures for more than half her life. However, she remained happy, humble and thoughtful, always trying to find the good in people. A student at East High School in Memphis, she excelled in art, sang in her church choir and enjoyed belly dancing. In August 2011, just weeks after turning 17, she suffered a seizure, fell in the tub and drowned. Her family asked about donation, and Lexie was able to donate organs and tissue. Her family now takes comfort in knowing Lexie's positive attitude carries on through the positive impact of her gifts of life.

Jessie Starnes

Organ, Eye and Tissue Donor 

Age 9 ~ Chattanooga
Donated on March 19, 2008 
Honored by Tennessee Donor Services

A very active nine-year-old, Jessie Anna Starnes enjoyed karate, softball, basketball, Girl Scouts, reading and video games. She was also very attentive to the needs around her and would provide smiles, hugs and even her possessions as needed. During Spring break of her third grade year, she collapsed at home and began to have a seizure as a result of a brain aneurysm. It only made sense for her family to choose organ donation so Jessie, gifted life to seven individuals and was also a cornea donor. Her family created Jessie's Desk, a nonprofit organization that provides children with school supplies, as Jessie used to do.

“The families of these donors have grieved the loss of their loved ones, yet they will celebrate their lives when the Donate Life float and its floragraphs journey down Colorado Boulevard on New Year’s Day,” said Bryan Stewart, chairman of the Donate Life Float Committee and Vice President of Communications at OneLegacy, the nonprofit organ and tissue recovery organization serving the greater Los Angeles area.

Both families had the rare opportunity to decorate a portion of the floragraphs in their hometowns before they were shipped to Pasadena to be attached to the Donate Life float. On Dec. 11, the Starnes family and friends gathered at Wallace A. Smith Elementary where Jessie went to school. Similarly, the Davis family and friends completed Lexie’s at East High School where she attended. (Photos of these decorating events are available upon request.)

Now these two Tennessee families will forever be joined by death, pride and hope. Yolanda Walton (Lexie’s mom), Delois Bolden (her grandmother) and sister Krista Walton; and  Lisa Rousseau and Robert Starnes (Jessie’s parents) will travel to Pasadena and experience the Donate Life float and Rose Parade first-hand.

The Tournament of Roses Parade is the third most-watched entertainment event in the world. On January 1, 2013, more than 30 million television viewers, one million parade spectators and tens of millions more in 150 countries worldwide, will see the life-saving message of donation. It is the single largest public celebration of the gifts of organ, tissue and eye donation. The theme of this year’s parade is “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

More than 28,000 lives are saved each year in the U.S. through the gift of organ donation, giving hope to the more than 116,000 people awaiting a life-saving organ transplant. More than 2,539 are in Tennessee. In addition, every year hundreds of thousands of people need donated corneas and tissue to prevent or cure blindness, heal burns or save limbs.

It is hoped this float entry “Journeys of the Heart” will inspire all people to register as donors.

The ups and downs of life teach us many lessons, with those experienced through organ and tissue donation and transplantation being among the most profound. Donor families pass through grief on the way to peace and remembrance; living donors step forward to give love and life to others; and transplant recipients courageously move forward from harrowing illness to health and gratitude. Though our paths vary from the places we start, we are all connected on our Journeys of the Heart.

Inspired by the 2013 Rose Parade theme “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” the 10th Donate Life Rose Parade float entry will transport 30 riders representing deceased organ, eye and tissue donors, living donors, and transplant recipients through a magical, heart-filled world encompassing the highs and lows that life has to offer. A pathway of looping hearts is lined with 72 memorial floragraph portraits of deceased donors who are remembered every step of the way. The float’s collection of joyful hearts representing the new life made possible by transplantation is grounded by a reverent dedication garden filled with roses bearing personal messages honoring those who make the gift of life possible. The journey peaks with intertwined red and purple hearts representing the love and courage that define humanity at its best.

Donate Life urges viewers to join America’s 105 million registered donors so everyone whose life depends on a transplant can have one. Sign up as an organ, eye and tissue donor when renewing your driver’s license or by visiting www.DonateLifeAmerica.org.

The Pasadena Tournament of Roses is a volunteer organization that annually hosts the Rose Parade presented by Honda, Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO and various associated events. The 124th Rose Parade presented by Honda, themed “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” will take place Tuesday, January 1, 2013 at 10:00 am CST featuring majestic floral floats, high-stepping equestrian units and spirited marching bands. Following the parade, the 99th Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO will kick off at 4:10 pm CST and feature an exciting match-up between two top collegiate football teams in the nation. For additional information on the Tournament of Roses please visit the official website at www.tournamentofroses.com.

For more information about the Donate Life Rose Parade float, Lexie Davis and Jessica Starnes, visit the official float website at www.donatelifefloat.org. For more information on how to become an organ and tissue donor in Tennessee visit the Tennessee Organ & Tissue Donor Registry at www.DonateLifeTN.org.

Donate Life Tennessee is the state’s official, nonprofit, (501c3) Organ and Tissue Donor Registry, solely dedicated to saving the lives of thousands of Tennesseans who are waiting for life-saving transplants. It is operated by Tennessee’s two organ procurement organizations, Mid-South Transplant Foundation and Tennessee Donor Services.

Jessie Starnes
Jessie Starnes

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