AUSTIN (KXAN) - A year after 18-year-old Ben Breedlove died of a congenital heart condition, he still is touching live, both through his words and through the organs and tissue he donated to others.
Breedlove's family was at Cook-Walden Funeral Home on Sunday afternoon to decorate Ben's floragraph, which is the flower portrait of Ben that will decorate Donate Life's 2013 Rose Parade Float with the theme Journeys of Life. The float is intended to symbolize the millions of people who are touched by organ donors.
Breedlove, who attended Westlake High School, is remembered for his wit and warmth on his YouTube channel of dating and life advice. He also left one last haunting video he recorded a week before he died,in which he wrote he had no fear of death.
"I was at school, walking in the hall. I could tell I was going to faint, so I sat on a bench. I passed out. The next thing I know, I woke up with EMS around me. I couldn't talk or move, I could only watch what they were doing," Breedlove wrote on index cards he displayed to music. "They put the shock pads on my chest. I heard one of them say 'They are ready'. And the other guy said 'Go!'. I passed out again. My heart stopped and I wasn't breathing for 3 minutes."
In that time, Ben wrote he had an out-of-body experience and a great feeling of peace. In fact, he didn't want to come back. On index cards, Breedlove said he believed in God and angels.
Ben Breedlove died on Christmas night.
KXAN covered Ben's story extensively and livestreamed his funeral service at the request of his family. More than 11,000 people watched the service, held at Gateway Church. His story made national and international news. Today, Ben is still touching others as part of the Rose Bowl float. Ben's sister Ally said Ben, who always had a great sense of humor, would have gotten a kick out of the gesture.
Ben's family knew that a heart transplant would be the only permanent solution to Ben's condition of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. When he died, it was natural to think of donating his organs, said his mother Deanne.
Ben's entire family, including sister Ally, brother Jake and parents Shawn and Deanne, will be at the Rose Bowl Parade on Jan. 1 to see the Donate Life float.
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