Stephanie Jimenez Hernandez, whose generous spirit made her vocal about organ donation, will be honored by Dignity Memorial Providers of New York City as an organ donor on the 2019 Donate Life’s “Rhythm of the Heart” float at the 130th Rose Parade in Pasadena, California on New Year’s Day.
Friends and family honored Hernandez, who passed away at the age of 27 in March 2011 following a car accident, on Dec. 8 at Frederick Funeral Home at 192-15 Northern Blvd. in Flushing.
Hernandez’s family added the finishing touches to her floragraph portrait, which is made of floral and natural materials such as flowers, seeds and beans. The floragraph will be featured among 43 other portraits on the float honoring the lives of organ donors, and raising awareness of the importance of life-saving organ donations.
“She was an extremely creative and artistic person herself, so to know that her legacy is being carried on in such a beautiful meaningful way, I think she would have nothing but great things to say and feel about it,” said Adrian Lopez, Hernandez’s brother.
Hernandez’s wishes to be an eye, tissue and organ donor were honored, and her family finds peace in knowing their beloved daughter and sister continues living on in those impacted by life, including the organ and tissue recipients and their loved ones.
“To be able to honor her in this magnitude, and how important it is, and how many people will see this, means a lot to us,” said Rose Ann Morgan, Hernandez’s mother. “Many people will see her story, and she’ll touch different people and somewhere maybe spread and have them register as donors.”
The Tournament of Roses Parade precedes the Rose Bowl Game on New Year’s Day. The parade is known around the world for its colorful, flower-lined floats celebrating an array of themes.
The float upon which Hernandez will be honored highlights the musical diversity and rhythms of Africa, which ties in with this year’s Rose Parade theme, The Melody of Life, celebrating the power of music in bringing people together.
“What bigger way than in this parade and for so many people to see her face, name, and know that she gave back to this world in the way that she has,” said Morgan.
During her life, Hernandez was generous and high achieving. She graduated with honors from Winston Churchill High School and attended the University of Texas at San Antonio. She later developed an interest in real estate and pursued a career in property management, earning a Certified Apartment Manager (CAM) designation through the San Antonio Apartment Association.
“She was boisterous and loud…she laughed the loudest in the room,” said Morgan. “She was very empathetic. She wore her emotions on her sleeve and was very extra. She always had everyone laughing and extremely protective of her siblings.”
Morgan is currently studying to become a funeral director to help other families cope with the grief of losing a loved one. She is also an administrative assistant at Dignity Memorial Providers of New York City, and thanked the company for honoring her late daughter.
“I’m very blessed and grateful to my company and all of our colleagues,” said Morgan. “Thank you for your support.”
Dignity Memorial Network, North America’s largest network of funeral, cremation and cemetery service providers, supports Donate Life and its Rose Parade float gives Dignity Memorial associates and additional way to celebrate the gift of life through an organ donation.
On average, 18 patients die every day while waiting simply because the organ they needed did not become available in time, according to Bill O’Brien, of Dignity Memorial Providers of New York City, which will be honoring four people this year.
“As professionals in the funeral service industry, we believe in the importance of celebrating life; most importantly, the life stories of the families we serve, and for the first time this year, the story of a fellow teammate’s family,” said O’Brien.