Eight-year-old Katy Corporon clutched a portrait of her cousin Reat Underwood, buried her head in her hand and tried to fight back a wave of emotions.
Reat was 14 when he was shot and killed in April 2014 during a hate crime outside the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park.
F. Glenn Miller Jr. was found guilty of capital murder for the shooting last year and sentenced to death.
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On Thursday, Reat’s family unveiled the floragraph of the teen that will be a part of the Donate Life float in the Tournament of Roses Parade on Jan. 2 in Pasadena, Cali.
Katy and her 10-year-old brother, Andrew; Reat’s grandmother Melinda Corporon; and Reat’s mother, Mindy Corporon, added the finishing touches to the portrait.
Sponsor Lois Foxen, a California resident, completed 95 percent of the floragraph. The portrait, made of organic materials, will be one of 60 portraits of organ donors to be featured on the float.
Asked what she thought of the portrait, Katy reminisced on memories of her cousin. She was just 6 when he died.
“I know that he was a lovely” person, Katy said. “He always played with me, and he was really nice.”
Shortly before his death, Reat signed the back of his driver’s permit to be an organ donor.
“That was just God in action,” Mindy Corporon said of Reat’s decision. God “was putting things in place so that when and if (Reat’s death) happened, he’d be in a place to be an organ donor.”
Reat’s donation was coordinated by the Midwest Transplant Network. The network will also honor Heather Denise Reed-Flynn of Kansas City in the Rose Parade.
Reed-Flynn’s organs were donated after she died last year at the age of 43 as the result of a stroke.