Louisville family's son to be memorialized during Rose Parade


by Brooke Hasch


Posted on December 19, 2013 at 5:30 PM

Updated Friday, Dec 20 at 12:46 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11)--  For Scott and Shannon Adkins seeing the face of their child illuminated atop a float during the Rose Parade in Pasadena, Ca. is the best Christmas gift a parent could get.

Keegan Adkins may only be there in spirit, but there's a chance three others will be watching the parade that day thanks to a lifesaving decision by his parents.

"We were loving on him and snuggling him, a room full of people saying goodbye. I had made a comment, 'I can't believe I'm never going to see his baby blues again.' And at that moment, something went through me like you wouldn't imagine and I said, we need the organ donor people here,'" Shannon said.

Shannon and Scott said goodbye to their youngest son, Keegan, on June 25, 2011. Keegan saved three lives that day. He gave two kidneys and a liver, to two children and an adult.

"It was the best day of my life when it was the hardest day of yours," Shannon read from a thank you letter of one of the recipients.

"I tell people that receiving these letters is like when your child receives a trophy or blue ribbon. These are the last trophies and blue ribbons my child will ever receive. We hold them very dear to our hearts to know what he did for someone else, that he saved lives," Shannon said.

His gifts received national recognition by Donate Life, a non-profit working to increase organ, eye and tissue donation across the globe.

"That's just the biggest thing ever to have my son represented on the float before the biggest football game of the year. That's just fantastic," Scott said.

Come Jan. 1, Scott and Shannon will watch the Donate Life float roll across their television, representing 82 families who've lost a loved one, but given so much to total strangers.

"It put our hearts at piece to be able to work on this," Shannon said.

Thursday, Keegan's parents unveiled his memorial to friends and family at Kosair Children's Hospital. The two just returned from Pasadena where they helped create a floragraph of Keegan that will rest on the float, one of their favorite photos made from a mixture of flowers, seeds, coffee, and spices.

"The entire day that we were looking at our floragraph we were staring at our baby's face," Shannon said.

The next time the Adkins will see it, will be the day of the parade.

"I don't care where I'm at, if I'm at work or at home, I will be glued to the TV for that. I can't wait, can't wait," Scott said.

Keegan will be one of two Kentucky natives represented on this float. Jeff Ballard, from Mt. Sterling donated the gift of life in 1998 after suffering a brain aneurism. Both families hope more people will become a donor to help more than 120,000 people waiting for a life saving organ transplant in the U.S.

"With organ donation, you can donate up to 7 organs, with tissue donation you can help up to 50 people, and cornea donations can give two people the gift of sight," Jenny Miller Jones with Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates (KODA) said.

To learn how to become a local donor, visit kyorgandonor.org.