Carmel native McKenzie Leichtnam underwent a heart transplant as a newborn in 1990, and when he died 20 years later, he donated tissue to help save and heal other lives.
Leichtnam will be honored and remembered with a floragraph portrait displayed on the 2023 Donate Life float in the annual Rose Parade, set for Jan. 2 in Pasadena, Calif. A floragraph uses organic materials, such as spices, seeds and flowers, to create a portrait. The float, themed “Lifting Each Other Up,” will contain 44 floragraphs featuring people from across the nation who have donated organs or tissues upon their death.
The Carmel City Council heard a presentation at its Nov. 21 meeting about Leichtnam, nicknamed “Kenz,” and the float from Corinne Osinski-Carey, community outreach coordinator and registry specialist with the Indiana Donor Network.
“He was a tireless defender of underdogs, and I think that really speaks to his story,” Osinski-Carey said.
Leichtnam graduated from Carmel High School in 2009 and completed two years at Vincinnes University. He was planning to transfer to Indiana University but died unexpectedly in his sleep at home after a campus visit in July 2011. His family still resides in Carmel.
His impact continues to be felt, as his sister works as a hospital liaison for the Indiana Donor Network, which helps coordinate lifesaving transplants.
The floragraph will be displayed at various locations in Carmel before being transported to California for the parade.