Drew Swank to be featured on Rose Parade float

Two years ago, life stopped for 17-year-old Drew Swank, but his donated organs saved lives and restored sight to two people. Friday, friends and family put the finishing touches on a bigger-than-life tribute to Drew and heroes like him.

This time of year can be especially difficult for families who have lost loved ones, but for the Swank family, keeping the memory of their 17-year-old son alive is what helps them through.

In 2009, Drew was playing football for Valley Christian when he was hit by a player on the opposing team. He lost consciousness and was flown to Sacred Heart, where he died.

On Friday, Swank was honored at Sacred Heart Medical Center for saving the lives of seven people in his death. His family gathered at the hospital Friday and learned that Drew will represent organ donors in the northwest at this year’s Rose Bowl parade on January 2 in Pasadena.

People toss the word ‘hero’ around a lot but what does it mean? Who is a hero?

“I knew when his accident, when he, he didn’t make it that he would want to do that,” Drew’s mom Patti said.

Do you have to save a life first?

“This wasn’t the end of Drew’s legacy, this was the start of his legacy,” Drew’s sister Tara said.

If that’s the key then Drew Swank is a hero seven times over, having donated his organs to seven other people.

“We met Rocky, who received Drew’s lungs, he let us listen to Drew’s, our son’s lungs with a stethoscope and how wonderful that is,” Don Swank, Drew’s dad, said.

Patti Swank said that at 17-years-old Drew took up a passion for organ donation.

“Out of the blue he asked me, ‘Mom what do you think about organ donation’ and I think it had to do with he just got his drivers license and they asked that,” she said.

Drew gave the gift of sight, too, and for that the organization “Sight Life” wants Drew to be honored two years after his death with a portrait, made of organic materials like coffee grounds, sprinkled on by those who loved and knew him most: his parents, siblings, and his football teammates.

The portrait will be displayed on a float in the 123rd Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena. His face will be one of many on the float, but he was chosen to represent the northwest.

“That’s his birthday picture from his last birthday and it’s an amazing likeness and it just breaks your heart ? we miss him,” Don Swank said.

He is the face of heroes, who continues to inspire more heroes, who say yes to organ donation.

“Drew is a hero. He’s a hero to everyone in our family,” Tara Swank said.