Local organ donor honored during Rose Parade in California


PASADENA, Calif. (WHTM) — A Midstate family is in sunny California spreading awareness about the importance of organ donation, and they’re doing it in a rather unique way.

The Mohn family, from Steelton, helped to decorate the Donate Life float that was featured among others in Wednesday’s Rose Parade in Pasadena, and they had a very special reason for being there.

“Words just can’t describe how honored we are to have been part of that,” Alison Mohn said.

Her son Ryan was just 16 when he was killed during a car accident in 2004. The family learned in July that Ryan, a one-time standout high school athlete at Steelton-Highspire, would be one of 44 organ donors featured on this year’s float.

“We were maybe three or four rows up, so we had a front-row seat,” said Cristen Hill, Ryan’s sister.

“It happened all so quickly. I think I just wish that moment could’ve been in slow motion,” Mohn said.

Surreal, she calls it, that her son is still being talked about and his life is being highlighted all these years later.

“Six people received lifesaving transplants and the lives of over 150 people were also enhanced through his tissue and cornea donations,” Mohn said.

In November, the family helped to create Ryan’s portrait that would eventually be placed on the float, and even more recently lent a hand in decorating the massive piece.

This kind of exposure, they say, brings much-needed awareness.

“The opportunity we all have to register to be an organ donor can actually help save many lives, and leave a legacy just like Ryan has done,” said Dwendy Johnson, with the Gift of Life Donor Program, who accompanied the Mohns to California. “In Pennsylvania, over 8,000 people are waiting for a lifesaving organ.”

That wait, for some, never comes to an end, which is a big reason the Mohn family hopes more people will choose organ donation.

“A lot of people think that they’re not gonna try and save people’s lives, and just take their organs, that’s totally not true,” Mohn said.

The float did win an award for design and floral arrangement.

You can learn more about the Gift of Life here and see more videos and pictures of the float on its official Facebook.

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