Luke Bautista lost his life last year at the age of 15 after a tragic accident. But his family knew he would have wanted to save other lives so his organs were donated. Now Luke will be honored in a very special way.

Luke grew up in Wall Township and attended Wall high School. He was an aspiring drummer and video producer. And he continues to be loved by everyone who knew him. He will simply never be forgotten.

His parents, Carla and Chris, and his brother CJ have honored his legacy and gone above and beyond to keep his name alive while supporting organ donation through NJ Shares.

(Luke Bautista, Photo courtesy of Carla Bautista)

Luke's heart, liver, both kidneys, pancreas, and his descending thoracic aorta, along with skin, tissue and bone donations, have saved and enhanced the lives of over a hundred people.

Chris Bautista, Luke's dad, says that his son Luke always took the time to make others smile and made every moment of his life count. Chris reminds you that, through Luke's example, you can also save lives as an organ donor.

It will be my great honor to be able to see the floragraph portrait of the unforgettable Luke Bautista tonight when it is unveiled at Jersey Shore University Medical Center for family, friends, and some of the nurses who were there when Luke was brought into the hospital. As the family helps complete the finishing touches, all that gather this evening will get to see it before it hits the float.

This portrait, in flowers, will represent Luke as an honoree on the 2018 Donate Life Rose Parade Float in January. You'll see the parade on TV, while the Bautista family will get to be in California for the event.

The Rose Parade, (Tournament of Roses Parade) is held in Pasadena, California each year on New Year's Day and includes flower-covered floats (last year there were 44 of them) along with marching bands and hundreds of equestrian horses and is followed by the Rose Bowl college football game.  It's watched in person by hundreds of thousands of spectators along the parade route and is broadcast on multiple TV networks and seen by millions more worldwide in over 100 countries. (The parade dates back to 1890, and the football game was added in 1902 to help fund the cost of staging the parade.)

NJ Sharing Network is a non-profit, federally designated organ procurement organization committed to saving and enhancing lives through the miracle of organ and tissue donation and transplantation. The Bautista family has raised so much awareness and money to support this life-saving organization over the past year. And they have been blessed to be able to meet some of the recipients of Luke's organs -- something that isn't usually the norm.

I hope one day you are blessed to meet the amazing and loving Bautista family as they continue to hold Luke in their hearts and share the incredible gift of him with others.

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