The 2011 New Year's Day Tournament of Roses Parade will have special meaning for Gahanna residents Roger and Pat Walker.

The 2011 New Year's Day Tournament of Roses Parade will have special meaning for Gahanna residents Roger and Pat Walker.

A floral photograph of the couple's late son, Kirk, will be featured on the Donate Life Rose Parade float called "Seize the Day."

"Kirk passed away 23 years ago, and as a result of his passing, the family chose to donate his organs because we knew that would be his wishes," Roger Walker said. "Typically, when they honor people on the Donate Life float, they go back one year. But I've been affiliated with Lifeline of Ohio for the past 23 years since his passing, and they asked me to serve on the board of directors the last 17 years to represent donor families.

"They decided to honor someone who hadn't had the opportunity in the past, since this is the 25th anniversary in being an active organ procurement organization."

Walker said it's an honor for his family, considering the many others who could have been chosen.

Lifeline of Ohio is sponsoring the Walkers' trip to Pasadena, Calif., to watch the Tournament of Roses Parade.

The couple and their oldest son, Keith Walker, and oldest daughter, Kelly Norris, helped decorate Kirk's floral picture at the Lifeline of Ohio offices Dec. 16. Daughter Karrie of Arizona couldn't attend.

Kirk's floral picture will be one of 60 featured on the Donate Life float.

On Sept. 25, 1987, Kirk Walker died after an auto accident at age 17. He was a student at Westerville North High School and was active with his family at Gahanna's Evangel Temple.

Walker describes his late son as a family person who was an average kid whom everyone liked.

"He was a good kid, above-average student, and he was the second child," Walker said. "He was content with being who he was. Everyone who met him liked him."

A 50-year-old farmer received Kirk's heart.

"He was so grateful," Walker said. "He was released within five days. He's living a brand-new life because of that. Kirk's corneas were given, and his kidneys were used to help people get off dialysis. One person can help from a few to as many as eight people who are waiting."

Walker speaks to groups about organ donation whenever Lifeline of Ohio asks him. He said 110,000 Americans are waiting for organ transplants, and 18 people die every day while waiting for a transplant.

"Having the support of our church and faith got us through tragedy," he said. "To balance our lives, we needed to do something for the community and to help people outside our church. They asked us to speak at many functions."

Walker was scheduled to talk during a Dec. 20 Christmas party for a local Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

"There's a fund where you can donate a dollar to Donate Life," he said. "Whenever you get your license renewed, they ask."

Walker said the theme of Donate Life's float is "Seize the Day," encouraging people to live their lives to the fullest every day.

The float will feature colorful kites soaring in the wind, adorning several memorial floral portraits of deceased donors.

Donate Life officials hope millions of parade viewers and spectators are inspired to seize the day, to spend time with their families and join the 92-million Americans who have registered as organ, eye and tissue donors on their state donor registries.

Lifeline of Ohio is a sponsor of Donate Life's Rose Parade float that will make its way through the parade beginning at 11 a.m. Jan. 1.

For additional information on the Tournament of Roses, visit the official website at