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A Teenager's Life-Saving Decision

December 14, 2012, 6:06 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

A Teenager's Life-Saving Decision
CORSICA, SD -

A Corsica teenager will be honored on a Rose Parade float. Andrea Cleveland died after a car crash last fall but thanks to her organ donations, she helped save five people's lives.

That action is now representing the Upper Midwest on the Donate Life Float in the Tournament of Roses Parade.

Andrea was a fun-loving, outgoing 16-year-old.

"When she walked in the room, she lit up the room," Andrea's father, Jeff Cleveland, said.

But on November 1, 2011, the Corsica teenager lost control of her car on a rural road. She later died at the hospital.

"It took days, maybe weeks for me to realize that she's actually gone. Every day I'd wait for her to come running down the steps, hearing her footsteps running down to get ready for school," Andrea's mother, Marlene Cleveland, said.

One thing that has helped the family heal is the fact that Andrea was an organ donor. Because of that, she was able to save the lives of five people. She also helped others.

"Many people also received tissue grafts from the gifts Andrea gave. She also was able to donate corneas to two people to restore sight," LifeSource CEO Susan Gunderson said.

The family has met two of the people Andrea helped save: 29-year-old Meleah and two-year-old Keegan.

"It really helped us at Christmas time to know, yah, we're grieving. I don't know how we're going to get through Christmas but then we see the picture of Keegan. Andrea saved this little boy's life," Jeff said.

"When they came in the room, I just picked up little Keegan and started hugging and holding him. It's like holding or hugging Andrea again. I could feel her presence," Marlene said.

Because of her life-saving donation, Andrea will be honored on the Donate Life Float in the Rose Parade. Being a donor was something Andrea was proud of.

"She made a big deal of it to her friends at school. She came into school saying, 'I got my license. I'm a donor. I'm a donor.' It was a big deal for her," Jeff said.

Because of her decision, Andrea has not only made an impact on the lives of those she saved, but also her family.

"So proud of her for making that choice. I did not inspire her because I wasn't a donor myself until after her accident," Marlene said.

"I had thought I was a donor but wasn't sure. I looked at my license, and I was.  But when I checked the box, I didn't think too much of it. Now I realize there's 18 people a day who pass away because they didn't find their donor match," Jeff said.

But thanks to their daughter, some were given a new chance at life.

Eight of Andrea's family members are traveling to Pasadena to see Andrea's floragraph on the Rose Parade float.

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