Waterloo Teen to be Honored as Organ & Tissue Donor on 2015 Donate Life Rose Parade Float

Posted December 23, 2014 in Donor Family News

Memorial “Floragraph” Portraits Tells Abby Cecena’s ‘Never-Ending Story,’
While Her Kidney Recipient from Springfield, MO Rides on The Float 

ST. LOUIS Dec. 22, 2014–Mid-America Transplant Services is proud to sponsor two families to participate in the 2015 Donate Life Rose Parade float at the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day as the float honors and remembers those who have given the Gift of Life and acknowledges recipients who have received a lifesaving transplant. MTS chose the family of Abby Lynn Cecena  and Monica Brown to attend the parade and several Donate Life events.  A floragraph portrait of Abby, who was an organ and tissue donor from Waterloo, Illinois, will be among 72 on the 2015 Donate Life Rose Parade float while Monica, a Springfield, Missouri resident who received one of Abby’s kidneys, will ride the float as a recipient.

The parade begins at 10 a.m. CDT and will air in St. Louis on KSDK Channel 5, ABC30, The Hallmark Channel and HGTV.

Abby was caring, smart, stubborn as a bull, and could always discover a way to find the good in even the most negative situations. At just 16 years old, she was already a force of nature. She always aspired to become an organ donor, but could not officially register because she was only 16. She was very passionate about organ donation and frustrated that she could not make the choice for herself. Fortunately, Abby’s family knew how much it meant to her and when the time came, they did not hesitate to honor her wishes when she died on August 7, 2012, from a head injury sustained in a car accident. Abby’s organ donations reached far beyond her small town to people from around the country. Her gifts have brought tremendous comfort to her grieving family.”Every person’s life has a purpose,” said her mother, Tammy. “Abby’s purpose was much bigger than we could have ever imagined.”

“After 28 years with MTS, I remain in awe of families who think of others in the midst of their own tragedy,” MTS President and CEO Dean F. Kappel said. “It is privilege for our organization to sponsor these families to attend this special event to honor Abby’s life and legacy.”  

For Monica Brown, Abby’s gift of a kidney gave her a second chance at life. Monica spent two years on dialysis after her physicians discovered in 2008 that Lupus and high blood pressure had caused damage to her kidneys causing reduced kidney function. Today, Monica has the energy to do anything.

Atop the float, the floragraphs will grace 72 books that hold the donor’s inspirational stories, with an open book seeming to release 60 butterflies representing the number of lives transformed by a single deceased donor. Thirty riders and 12 living donors, who will walk alongside the float, will add their stories to the float that will be seen by more than 40 million viewers nationwide during the Tournament of Roses® Parade on New Year’s Day.

Only organic materials, such as spices, seeds, and crushed flowers, are used to create floragraphs. Some of the donors’ families, guided by expert volunteers from Southern California, will come to Pasadena before Christmas to personally bring their loved ones’ images to life. Others will apply the final touches to their floragraphs at special “floragraph finishing events” in their local communities.

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 126th Rose Parade presented by Honda, themed “Inspiring Stories,” will take place Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015, at 8 a.m. (PST) featuring majestic floral floats, high-stepping equestrian units and spirited marching bands. Following the parade, the 101st Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO is slated to start at 1:30 p.m. (PST) and feature an exciting match-up between two of the top collegiate football teams in the nation. For additional information on the Tournament of Roses please visit the official website at

For more information on the Donate Life Float and all of the floragraph honorees, please visit

About Mid-America Transplant Services (MTS)
Mid-America Transplant Services (MTS) changes lives for the better. Since 1974, MTS has facilitated the organ and tissue donation process for a service area of 4.7 million people in eastern Missouri, southern Illinois, and northeast Arkansas. With a mission to save lives through excellence in organ and tissue donation, MTS compassionately provides care for donors, transplant recipients and their families. To drive the organization’s mission, MTS builds strong partnerships with 122 hospitals, four transplant centers, seven tissue specialists and multiple community organizations. Committed to an innovative approach, MTS is the first OPO in the nation to utilize an in-house operating room model for organ recovery and the first to operate license offices to increase community support through donor registry enrollment. Throughout the organization’s history, the workforce has relentlessly pursued its core values of compassion, quality, teamwork, integrity, and innovation to pursue a vision that organs and tissues are always available to those in need. Located in St. Louis, MO. MTS is a not-for-profit organization and is one of 58 federally designated organizations of its kind in the United States.



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