STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) - A California boy who was killed in an accidental shooting two years ago saved five lives as an organ donor, and will now be honored in the upcoming Rose Parade.
There are memories and love in every corner of Silvia Van Steyn’s Stockton home
“He loved football, was full of life, loved playing with the dogs,” Van Steyn told KTXL.
Reminders of how her sometimes stubborn 13-year-old son, Michael Balsey-Rodriguez, would soften at the sight of his mother’s tears.
“He was mad at me because I was lecturing him, and as soon as I started crying, I walked off and he stopped what he was doing and he was like, ‘Mom, don’t cry. Don’t cry, mom. Mom, don’t cry,’” Van Steyn said.
But even in tragedy, Michael left a lasting legacy.
“The fact that they’ve told me how much their life has changed because of him, to me it’s like, this is all because of Michael,” Van Steyn said.
Van Steyn says her son accidentally shot himself in March of 2017.
“It’s heartbreaking, it’s - I can’t even explain that feeling,” she said. “It’s like my world just — there’s really nothing you can do.”
Her son's death left her feeling helpless but there was one last thing Michael could do.
“He donated a liver, both kidneys, the pancreas, his heart, and one lung,” Van Steyn said.
Soon, millions of people will know Michael’s story, and how he saved five lives.
Michael — among 44 other donors — will be honored in the Rose Parade on Jan. 1.
"Just very excited and happy that he was chosen," said Van Steyn. "It was definitely an awesome surprise."
“His face will represent those individuals and families who everyday make these decisions to help others,” Donor Network West spokesperson Noel Sanchez said.
Donor Network West is not only encouraging families to sign up to be donors, but they are also hoping loved ones will talk about organ donation before tragedy strikes.