A Hoosier organ recipient and tissue donor will be honored during the upcoming Rose Bowl Parade.
McKenzie Leichtnam, a Carmel native, will be featured on the “Donate Life Float.” He was born with a heart defect that required a transplant just days after he was born.
He lived a normal life before dying in 2011 just before his 21st birthday. And just as he was given a second chance, he made sure others received the same opportunity, becoming a tissue donor and saving more than 70 lives.
His family is honored to have him chosen for the float—and hopes his story can inspire others.
“McKenzie was really unique. I think it’s very easy when someone has passed away to perfect them and make them incredible, but he really did a lot in 20 years to do that on his own,” said his sister, Kelsey Leichtnam.
The float will feature McKenzie’s likeness in flowers.
“We were just surprised that he gets to be honored like this,” his sister said. “I think he would think it was a very neat opportunity. He was a huge sports fan. So just the fact we were considered to be able to do this and his story is so unique, so to be able to bring that perspective for us it just really was a joy.”
The Indiana Donor Network will fly McKenzie’s family to Pasadena, California, where they’ll be able to see the parade in person and talk with other families whose loved ones are being honored.
You can learn more about the Indiana Donor Network and organ donation at this website.