A Bronx couple whose son gave the gift of life to others will see him honored at the country's most iconic college football championship game. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.
There's not one part of Susan Nieves and John Rivera's Bronx apartment that doesn't hold memories of their son, 29-year-old Andrew Rivera.
Andrew, who the couple calls their "miracle baby" because his birth was unexpected, died last July from a brain aneurysm.
"It was devastating," Nieves siad.
But the family made a quick decision to their turn tragedy into a blessing for someone else.
"We decided to donate his organs to save other people's lives," Nieves said.
Four people received Andrew's heart, liver and kidneys. He became a hero, perhaps the superhero he was always destined to be.
"He loved Batman," John Rivera said.
Nieves and Rivera say their son was an avid fan of the Dark Knight. He read the comics and attended Comic Con.
His room is still the same as it was before he moved out, dotted with memorabilia. They even keep some items in the home's common rooms and have decorated their Christmas tree in Andrew's favorite colors of silver and blue, just like the caped crusader.
This was the second Christmas without their superhero, a difficult time of the year.
But a surprise honoring Andrew would brighten the couple's spirits. The organ donation advocacy group LiveOnNY Foundation chose Andrew's story to represent New York in the Donate Life parade at the Rose Bowl on January 2.
"It was really a privilege that it was the Rivera family with their very poignant and touching story," said Heidi Evans, executive director of LiveOnNY.
A picture of Andrew made of seed and other organic materials will adorn a parade float at the college football bowl game watched by millions across the country, and his parents will be there to see it.
"When I saw the picture of my son, I just, it was such an honor," Nieves said. "To think that we're going to put it up on the float, I was like, 'Oh my God.'"
A touching experience that will also raise awarness about organ, eye, and tissue donation. Like a true hero, Andrew is still helping others.