PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Eight years ago in Forest Grove, two step-sisters were killed while playing in a leaf pile in front of their home when they were run over by a car.
Since that time, their parents, Tom and Susan Dieter-Robinson, have kept their memories alive, including opening Anna and Abby’s Yard in their honor.
The portrait of Abigail — who would have been a senior in high school in 2020 — in the floragraph is made mostly of seeds. Since 2004, the non-profit Donate Life has featured hero organ donors every year.
Abigail’s organs sustained two lives: a young boy received her liver and a child is able to see through her cornea.
“Abigail literally, just randomly, asked about organ donation,” Susan told KOIN 6 News. “I answered the question based on what I thought I knew and they were 11-year-old questions. But that conversation came rushing back to my memory when we were forced to make that decision, because I knew in that instance she would have made that same decision.”
The idea for the float came from Gary Foxen, an organ recipient himself.
“I had decorated floats a couple of times post transplant and I thought to myself, ‘Wouldn’t it be incredible if we could have a float for Donate Life?'” he said.
Though he died in 2014, the annual float tradition continues.
Abigail’s parents were able to put the finishing touches on the floragraph before it was sent to Pasadena for the Rose Parade. They’re making the trip down to see the parade with their youngest daughter, Alice, who was born after the girls died — and she was born on Abigail’s birthday.
“What would they want us to do, right? And that’s the other thing. Of course they’d be sad, but do they want us to be sad? They’d want us to be joyful and remember them and try to live postively, so that’s the choice we try to make,” Tom said.
He acknowledged their deaths were a tragedy, but that’s not all it was.
“We come and we go. Hopefully we leave this place a little better than when we arrived,” Tom said. “I think in Abigail’s place, she definitely did that.”