Eleven-year-old Taylor Tefft's likeness, created in flowers, will adorn the Donate Life float in the New Year's Day Rose Parade in Pasadena.
Tefft and her cousin, Alexandra Hatley-Flores, 12, died in an Oct. 5, 2009, car accident. They were students at Chief Joseph Middle School in Richland and both were organ donors.
Tefft's mother, Jamie Peterson, said her daughter is one of about 60 individuals from across the country whose "floragraphs" will be on the float. It's to honor their gifts that helped dozens of other people through organ transplants.
"She touched more people than I ever imagined. Her smile, her friendship and her love left a lasting legacy," said Peterson, who said the trip will be her first to California.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Peterson's son, Timothy, 14, and Taylor's father, Christian Tefft, also are going. They will be at the parade to see the completed float from a special section reserved for the families of the organ donors.
"This is a very big honor. It will be very emotional," Peterson said.
The loss of her daughter and niece especially was hard on Peterson because she lost her father in a fatal car crash in 1999 when she was 22. He also was an organ donor. At the time, Taylor was just a baby.
"So that makes me a donor daughter, a donor aunt and a donor mom," Peterson said.
"I've had an opportunity to see it from the other side. The girls didn't die to save someone's life. It was a tragic and horrific accident, but in that tragedy, the (girls') own wishes were honored," Peterson said.
In retrospect, Peterson said she sees how her father's tragic death and being an organ donor set an example that his granddaughter was to follow.
"It had been a part of the family conversation as long as she was alive. (Taylor) was able, in her wisdom of 11 years, to choose to be an organ donor, too. For an 11-year-old, it was a 'duh' thing -- of course, why wouldn't you do that?" Peterson said.
The tragedy that took Taylor and Alexandra a year ago launched Peterson into becoming an advocate for Donate Life.
She has spoken with organ transplant recipients in the Tri-Cities, including Oscar Sainz, who received a donated heart in May 2009, and Alicia Foss, who was given a pair of lungs in April.
Peterson said she also was contacted a month after the accident last year by the mother of a little boy who received a kidney from Taylor.
"We have spoken, and she has sent pictures of him. I love to see his smile in those pictures. It gives me some comfort," she said.
Going to the parade and seeing the float with Taylor's likeness, and those of dozens of other organ donors, will stir a mix of emotions for Peterson.
"There will be sadness, but also a lot of support and hugging and opportunities to share what it has meant to us," Peterson said.
More than a year after Peterson received the worst news a mother could bear, she continues to care about the people Taylor's donations helped.
"I pray for them every day, that they are happy and living their lives to the fullest," she said.