Article from The Press-Enterprise
Thirteen-year-old Giovanni Valle was curious when he noticed a pink dot on his father’s driver’s license.
His father, Rafael Valle Sr., told his son it meant he was an organ donor and that, when he died, his organs and tissue would be given to those in need.
Giovanni said that, when he got his driver’s license, he too wanted to see his organs donated to help others get a second chance.
He didn’t know then how soon the opportunity would come.
A couple weeks later, on Nov. 12, 2014, Giovanni was killed when he was struck by a car while walking to school less than a mile from his Riverside home.
A competed floragraph of Giovanni Valle is seen Tuesday, Nov. 21, during a dedication ceremony at Riverside Community Hospital. It will be part of the Donate Life float in the 2018 Rose Parade. A couple weeks before his death, Giovanni said he wanted to be an organ donor. Photo by Stan Lim, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG
His family honored his wishes that day after he died at Riverside Community Hospital. They agreed to donate their son’s tissue and cornea to other patients.
Now, the Sierra Middle School eighth-grader’s donation is about to be honored on New Year’s Day when a floragraph featuring his likeness will be part of in the Donate Life float in the 2018 Rose Parade in Pasadena.
On Tuesday, Nov. 21, family members gathered at the downtown Riverside hospital for a presentation and completion of the floragraph.
His parents, Rafael Valle Sr. and Romana Brito, said they were honored that their son’s likeness will be in the parade.
“It’s very, very emotional,” said their daughter, Veronica Valle, Giovanni’s older sister, who translated from Spanish for the couple.
She recounted how her brother told their father that he wanted to be an organ donor “to give people a second chance who had lost hope.”
“Giovanni was always very sweet and kind,” said Veronica Valle, who wore a button with a picture of her brother. “He was always for helping others.”
While it’s still painful for the family, she said knowing that her brother was able to do so “makes our hearts feel warm and honored.” She said his tissue and organs have helped more than 50 patients.
“I know he did something good,” she said.
An artist’s rendering shows the Donate Life float that will appear in the 2018 Rose Parade.
The floragraph was created by the family using floral materials and grains such as coffee, cinnamon and rice. They left the final touches for Tuesday’s ceremony.
That’s when Giovanni’s parents, sister and two brothers — Rafael Valle Jr. and Bryan Valle — completed the eyebrows, using coffee grains.
The family plans to be at the Rose Parade and are looking forward to seeing Giovanni’s image on the float, Veronica Valle said.
Giovanni will be one of 44 donors whose likeness will be on the Donate Life float, sponsored by OneLegacy for the 15th year, said Alexia Delima, director of donation development for OneLegacy.
Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey, who was joined by police, fire and ambulance personnel at the hospital ceremony, called Giovanni a “selfless young man” whose decision was a blessing to others.
“We are here to celebrate Giovanni’s life and remember his commitment, that was inspired by his father, was fulfilled in his passing,” Bailey said.