Kissimmee teen organ donor to be honored in annual Rose Parade

Donate Life to feature floragraphs of Kissimmee teen who donated organs after death

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – On New Year’s Day, the annual Rose Parade in Pasadena, California, will once again take place, this time with Central Florida connections.

An all-natural floral portrait, or floragraph, of Diana Couch’s daughter will be featured among the flowery floats.

[TRENDING: Can Fla. drivers legally move into intersection while waiting to make a turn? | Florida reports over 125K new COVID cases in one week | Become a News 6 Insider (it’s free!)]

It’s been 22 years since her daughter’s death but Couch keeps her memory alive by helping spread awareness about organ donation and tissue donation.

That’s where Donate Life, a nonprofit encouraging the donation of organs and a part of the Rose Parade event since 2004, comes in.

After her daughter’s death, Couch became a volunteer with the organization Donate Life, and in July of this year, they surprised her with an invitation to the Rose Parade.

“It’s especially awesome to have this wonderful opportunity to honor Linda and show the nation and the world a little bit of Linda’s story,” Couch said from her home in Kissimmee.

Her daughter, Linda had told her family that she wanted to become an organ donor.

“She liked the idea of giving back and helping,” Couch said.

On Jan. 22, 1999, Linda Couch had left a basketball game at Gateway High School in Kissimmee near the intersection of U.S. 192 and Bill Beck Boulevard. Diana said her daughter was on her way to a fast-food restaurant when a driver hit her. Linda died three days later at 15 years old.

On Jan. 1, 2022, Donate Life’s float will feature floragraphs of donors, including Linda.

“She was fun. A character. Her favorite subject at school was any time that she could be social,” Diana said of her daughter. “She loved music. She loved animals. She loved the outdoors and butterflies.”

Couch said the pain of losing her only daughter is still there but she’s learned to live with it. She said the silver lining is the lives Linda helped after her death. The family donated Linda’s heart, liver, kidneys, corneas, and other organs that went to four other people.

“We didn’t get a miracle but that’s OK because by donating her organs other families did get a miracle. Their loved one was able to go on and live on and that’s what I like to think about,” Couch said.

Another participant in the Rose Parade is Rene Sorrentino who received a liver transplant at the AdventHealth Transplant Institute in 2014. She will be in the parade after decorating the floragraph of her donor, Nicholas Paquette of Boyton Beach.

About the Author:

Carolina Cardona highlights all Central Florida has to offer in her stories on News 6 at Nine. She joined News 6 in June 2018 from the Telemundo station in Philadelphia.