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Late Indiana University Police Officer to be honored during 2022 Rose Parade

“My husband was my soulmate. I knew everything before he passed and I knew when he passed this was what he wanted to do.”
Late Indiana University Police officer to be honored during 2022 Rose Parade
Posted at 4:39 PM, Dec 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-28 16:39:22-05

INDIANAPOLIS — A couple of Hoosiers are getting the chance of a lifetime to honor the life of a man taken far too soon to raise awareness about how important it is to be a organ donor.

“It’s such an honor; it is so overwhelming. I feel nothing but the love, care and compassion not only from my friends, but his family,” Melissa Pace said.

Melissa’s late husband and Indiana University South Bend Police Officer Levell Pace was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease in 2002 and needed a kidney transplant.

Levell Pace smiles while in his police uniform. Pace, an organ donor, will be honored on this year's Donate Life float at the Tournament of Roses parade.

According to the Indiana Donor Network, Levell was about to be placed on the national transplant waiting list when he died unexpectedly of a heart attack at age 34.

“My husband was my soulmate; I knew everything before he passed and I knew when he passed this was what he wanted to do,” Melissa said.

levell and melissa pace
Levell and Melissa Pace smile for a photo on Christmas Eve 2001. Melissa is traveling to California to see Levell honored on the Donate Life Float during the Tournament of Roses Parade

Levell made a selfless decision to provide healing to others through tissue and cornea donation.

Melissa and her sister, Susan Jackson, left for California early Tuesday morning to join other donor families from across the country at the 2022 Tournament of Roses Parade.

“When he was alive, we were working on filling out the paperwork to get a kidney transplant because he was needing a kidney. When he passed, we were still able to donate bones, skin and tissue and that helped others,” Melissa said.

Marti Cooper, a community outreach coordinator with Donate Life Indiana and Indiana Donor Network, will join Melissa and her sister on the trip.

“The focus of Indiana Donor Network is to spread the word about donating and spread the word about donation and transplant and how many lives one can save,” Cooper added.

The three will participate in a private Donate Life rose placement ceremony Wednesday, then be with other donor families before helping decorate the Donate Life float on Thursday.

“Once they realize that one donor could help as many as 75 people, I think more and more people are realizing that and I think we are seeing more people sign up,” Cooper added.

A floragraph, or floral portrait, was created to honor Pace’s decision to save lives and will be displayed on the Donate Life float during the parade on New Year’s Day.

2022 float rendering color FINAL.jpg
The Indiana Donor Network shared this rendering of the 2022 Donate Life float. Its theme, Courage to Hope, shares the courage shown by donor families, living donors and waiting recipients by highlighting the winged lion of the Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy.

“I think what people can learn is that being a donor is like a final act of kindness, something that we can do to make a difference in the world,” Cooper said.

On Saturday, Melissa, Susan and Marti will be in the grandstands for the parade, watching for Pace’s floragraph.