This Jan. 1, as the 125th Tournament of Roses Parade, the family of Nick Leath can look on with pride.
On Dec. 21, the Fountain Valley family put the finishing touches on a floragraph, or a memorial floral portrait, in honor Nick’s honor. That memorial has been placed on the Donate Life Rose Parade float.
Leath’s family, which includes father William and mother Harriet join the families of 81 organ, eye and tissue donors to complete memorial floragraph portraits of their loved ones. Their son, described as an energetic youngster who grew into a successful man, died in October while riding his motorcycle.
This year’s Donate Life float theme is “Light Up the World,” according to officials with the organization.
The floragraphs are decorated with grains, flowers, seeds, spices and other organic materials, officials wrote in a news release.
“Each honored individual is remembered by his/her generosity, compassion, and lives healed through donations after death,” officials wrote. “The floragraphs will grace the lanterns of light that illuminate 30 float riders -- all grateful organ and tissue recipients -- with 12 living organ donors walking alongside to demonstrate their ongoing vitality.”
Below is a biography written in honor of Nicholas Leath:
Nicholas David Leath was an energetic young man with a zest for life. He started surfing when he was eight and would go out regularly to ride the waves with his older brother. As Nick grew older, he also began riding ATVs and doing stunt stadium motorcycle riding. He loved anything to do with motorcycles and automobiles. Nick also had a very artistic and creative side and had enjoying drawing from a young age.
Nick became interested in customizing cars and started a car club called "Import Style." He later combined his artistic gifts with his love for vehicles when he went into business for himself at age 20 with his own mobile detailing company. His designs won many awards and were shown in magazines. In one competition, Nick's car and a truck of his father's that he had customized both won first place in their respective categories.
On October 4, 1997, Nick was out practicing stunt motorcycle riding. Later that day, another rider came upon him lying unconscious in a ravine. He was airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center and declared brain dead on October 10. He was 30 years old.
Nick had a very giving nature; he enjoyed people and loved helping them, which he learned from his father, William. "Knowing Nick's nature made the decision to donate his organs easy for us," said his mother Harriet. "We knew that was exactly what he would have wanted to do."
Nick was able to donate his kidneys and liver to give three individuals the gift of life. His family has corresponded with the recipient of one of Nick's kidneys and takes comfort from the fact that this person has been able to enjoy being a grandfather.
After Nick's donation, Harriet became a Donate Life Ambassador who also worked with the Donate Life float for several years. Nick's sister Leslie and nieces Shanna and Rachel also serve as Donate Life Ambassadors in Nick's honor.