Rose Parade float honors local organ donor

The Brannon family celebrates Daniel’s life and legacy with a portrait of flowers on the Donate Life float in the 2012 Rose Parade.

When the Brannon family gathers New Year’s weekend in Pasadena, Calif., they will be one person short, but only in body. They know Daniel’s spirit will be with them. After all, he is why they are there.

Daniel Brannon’s death in a 2009 car wreck gave life to five others through organ donation, and he will be one of 72 donors remembered with a memorial floragraph – a portrait made from flowers – sponsored by the Alabama Organ Center and the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital on the Donate Life float, “…One More Day,” in the Rose Parade on Monday, Jan. 2, 2012.

His mother knows Daniel, a 2006 graduate of Carver High School, would have enjoyed all of the attention.

“Being in the limelight, Danny would have had a ball,” LaVonda Brannon says.

Daniel’s parents, Steve and LaVonda, along with his sister, Stephanie, and brothers, Steve and Randall, all headed to Pasadena Friday, Dec. 29, to participate in a weekend of events culminating with the Parade.

The float’s 72 floragraphs, including Daniel’s, were partially decorated in Pasadena by volunteers. Daniel’s was completed by the family at a decorating event at UAB Hospital on Dec. 9. Steve was impressed with the quality of the portrait when it was unveiled.

“The portrait is awesome,” the elder Steve Brannon says. “It looks like him. Those big ears and those thick eyebrows. It looks like him.”

“It‘s a great picture of Daniel and it’s truly an honor to be picked out of all the donors. We don’t take it lightly,” LaVonda Brannon adds. She says the family is most looking forward to getting their hands a little dirty.

“We’re excited about getting to help work on the actual float,” LaVonda says. “We’ll do that on Friday and we’re real excited about it.”

The Brannons say that they hope by participating in this event and bringing awareness to Daniel and other organ donors, more lives will be saved.

“We’re selfish most of our lives,” Steve Brannon says. “We don’t know when we are going to leave but we are all going to leave. Why try to hold onto something that is going to turn to dirt – it’s going to go back into the ground and there will be no use in it – when you can share it and not be selfish in death? To be selfish in life and selfish in death, that is ridiculous.”

“Give,” LaVonda says. “You have some awesome things inside of you that can help others. Just give.”