Cerena Williams, Technical Engineering Associate with Ascension Technologies in Florida, will celebrate New Year’s Day at the 2019 Rose Parade in Pasadena, California, with family members, including sister-in-law Terri Herrington. Cerena’s brother and Terri’s husband, Bryan Herrington, will be honored 14 years after his death as one of 44 organ donors with a floragraph, a portrait made completely of flowers and organic materials, on the Donate Life float.
Bryan owned a roofing company with his brother when he fell while working on a client’s wet roof after a storm in July 2004. Before his traumatic brain injury, Bryan was a healthy, athletic 35-year-old husband and father of five who enjoyed fishing, camping, church activities and time with his family. The day after his fall, Bryan died at Ascension Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, Florida, where two months earlier his son Payton had been born and where his sister Cerena has now worked for 25 years.
Because Bryan registered as an organ donor on his driver’s license, his memory lived on in those who received his organs. Four individuals were given another chance at life with Bryan’s heart, lungs, kidneys, pancreas and liver. Bryan’s family has been in touch with three of the four organ recipients for many years, even traveling to meet them in person. Bryan’s tissues benefitted 10 more people in need. And the experience pushed his sister to become an active volunteer and advocate for organ, tissue and eye donation.
“We are all going to die,” Cerena said. “We were blessed that in my brother’s death, he could continue to help others and that we are able to be part of that life. I can only hope that my death is as honorable as his was.”
Cerena has been a volunteer with LifeNet Health and LifeQuest since 2009 when she staffed an organ donation booth at a Sacred Heart health fair and shared her brother’s story. Since then, she has worked many events and activities, including speaking to more than 400 physicians, nurses, first responders and associates at a recent trauma conference. She also serves on the LifeNet Donor Family Advisory Committee. It was through LifeNet that she was invited to present her brother’s story, which was selected to be honored on the Donate Life Rose Bowl float.
“We found out Bryan was selected as one of the featured donors on August 14,” Cerena said. “It would have been his 50th birthday, and it just felt like it was meant to be.”
The family was able to help with the finishing touches on the floragraph before it was returned to Pasadena. They will assist with float preparation on site and be seated in a special area of the grandstand during the parade.
“I hope many of my colleagues will watch the Rose Parade,” Cerena said. “But even more importantly, I hope they will consider becoming organ donors to truly make a difference in someone else’s life.”
Photo: Cerena Williams, left, and Terri Herrington display a Christmas ornament with a photo of Bryan Herrington.