Leon Roach III wanted to become a neurosurgeon and save countless lives.
In the end, he saved just a few. But it was enough to get his face recognized at the Rose Parade.
Roach, a 19-year-old Marina High School graduate, died Sept. 3, 2009, at UC San Diego. The pole vaulter had traveled to campus for preseason practice when, during a rope swing drill, he fell off the mat and hit his head on the concrete floor. He died from a blunt head injury three days later.
Roach had signed up as an organ donor — and after his death, five of his organs went to needy recipients. On Saturday, his face was among those lining the Donate Life Rose Parade Float in Pasadena.
"He was going to be a neurosurgeon," said his mother, MaryAnn Roach. "He was pre-med, and we knew with him wanting to save lives, this is the only way now he can save lives. And he did. It's what he would have wanted, and we wanted it, too."