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October 21, 2014

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Local firefighter’s image, deeds will be celebrated in Rose Bowl Parade

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Jan Young and her daughter, Nikki Erwin, hold a floragraph of Paul Young, a longtime Clark County Fire Department captain who died suddenly last year but donated his organs. The floragraph will ride aboard a float in the 125th Rose Bowl Parade.

Click to enlarge photo

This floragraph of Paul Young, a longtime Clark County Fire Department captain who died suddenly last year, will ride aboard a float in the 125th Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, Calif. Young was an organ donor.

The portrait wasn’t quite complete. Paul Young needed eyebrows.

Family and friends came to the rescue Saturday morning at Fire Station 31 in Las Vegas. One by one, they dabbed and sprinkled ground spices — blonde in color, of course — onto a portrait of their deceased loved one made entirely of natural ingredients.

The floragraph, as it’s called, will ride aboard the Donate Life America float for the 125th Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., honoring the long-time Clark County Fire Department captain who donated organs and tissue after his sudden death last year.

“The dream that came true for those that received the organs and tissue of Paul is remarkable,” said Glenn Abercrombie, general manager of Palm Eastern Mortuary and Cemetery, which sponsored the floragraph.

Young died Sept. 22, 2012, after suffering a thoracic aortic aneurysm, which caused a traumatic brain injury. He was 54.

Three males in California became the recipients of Young’s liver and kidneys, in addition to others who received his bone, skin and corneas, said Kate McCullough, a spokeswoman for the Nevada Donor Network.

Young graduated from Clark High School in 1974 and went on to become Nevada’s youngest paramedic at age 19. The fire department promoted him to captain in 1997.

He is survived by his wife, Jan, and stepdaughter, Nikki Erwin, both of whom attended a ceremony Saturday at the fire station celebrating his life.

“When they told us how many lives he saved, it brought tears to my eyes,” Erwin said.

Erwin, 18, described herself as a “daddy’s little girl” who loved their camping trips and ATV rides. She also admired his work ethic.

“He was so compassionate about his job,” she said. “He was so friendly. I just want people to remember him that way.”

The floragraph’s completion signaled the beginning of its journey to Pasadena, where it will be preserved, touched up and finally placed on the float. The float will feature several larger-than-life lanterns — decorated with 71 floragraphs honoring organ donors across the country — as part of its “light up the world” theme, Abercrombie said.

All floragraphs are made from natural materials such as rice, seeds, dried plants and spices.

Young’s family urges others to become organ donors. In Nevada, 40 percent of residents are registered donors, McCullough said.

“Unfortunately, that ranks us 40th in the country,” she said. “That’s something we’re really striving to improve.”

For more information about organ donation, visit DonateLifeNevada.org.

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