2015 Float Rider
Floragraph Honoree Mike Erickson and Float Rider Colin Lepley
Growing up, Mike Erickson played football and enjoyed the outdoors. He was very quick-witted, with an exceptional sense of humor. His mother Dorothy describes him as a computer geek and said he had talked to going to school in the computer field. Before graduation, Mike enlisted in the Marine Corp.
Giving the Gift of Life
Mike tragically passed away at the age of 28. He donated his tissues, organs and corneas, helping more than 100 people through his gift.
“When I got the word that he was in the ER, I headed out immediately,” Dorothy said. “My mind was full of Mike and his life, which was ending way too soon. I knew before I arrived at the hospital that if it were an option, Mike would have wanted to help others one last time. That's why I made the decision to donate.”
Dorothy believes in the gift of life and has become an advocate for it. “Because of, or in spite of, our losses, many others will have the opportunity to have better lives. We can't do better than that.”
Mike’s parents have exchanged letters with Colin, the recipient of one of Mike’s tissue grafts. Colin has expressed his deep sense of gratitude to Mike’s parents for the gift of tissue donation. Dorothy expressed that she had been hoping and praying that the recipients of Mike’s gifts had been getting stronger and resuming normal lives, and receiving Colin’s letter helped to answer that question.
“If you were wondering what kind of individual our son was, he was kind hearted and quiet, and I know he would be very happy to know that part of him lives on in you,” wrote Dorothy. “I hope his gift makes a positive difference in your life and that you go on to do all the things you dream of.”
Receiving the Gift of Life
During Colin’s junior year baseball season, he injured his knee sliding into second base. One morning, Colin could not get out of bed because his knee had locked and he could not bend it. He visited his doctor, and within four days, he was in surgery.
Colin’s doctor told him that he could repair his knee by removing 50 percent of the weight bearing in that knee. The surgeon would need to perform an allograft transplant to replace what he was removing.
“Thanks to my donor, I will be able to function normally in my daily life and live without the pain it was causing me,” Colin said. “I have truly been blessed and I have learned an important lesson in life. I will be able to function normally again and will not take that for granted.”
Colin also says that he plans on being a donor himself, which is something he never had thought of before he “realized how special it is to receive a gift that is so important.”
Mike was honored with a special portrait that adorned the 2015 Donate Life Float in the Rose Parade in Pasadena. Mike’s floragraph, decorated with grains, flowers, seeds, spices and other organic materials, is one of 72 on the float, and Colin was one of the float’s 30 riders.