Colorful flowers and seeds meticulously arranged on a float in today’s Rose Parade will salute a pizza delivery driver who was slain earlier this year in North Charleston.
The “floragraph” consists of natural materials designed to resemble Maraleius Birdsong’s face.
Birdsong will be the first Charleston-area organ donor to be honored in the Pasadena, Calif., parade that airs at 11 this morning. He is the fifth from South Carolina.
A Domino’s Pizza deliveryman, the 20-year-old was robbed and fatally shot March 9 while taking a $38 order of chicken wings and cinnamon sticks to an apartment complex.
Stephawn Sherod Brown, 19, was later indicted on three charges, including murder, in connection with the deadly ambush. A Dorchester County grand jury also returned indictments on counts of murder and armed robbery against Jontae Demetrius Davis, 18.
The robbery yielded no cash for the assailants, according to authorities.
The job was Birdsong’s way to earn money to pay for coursework at Trident Technical College. He had dreamed of being an engineer.
After his death, his donated organs saved the lives of four people.
The young man’s story touched a selection panel that chooses which cases to highlight each year on the float sponsored by Donate Life America, a nonprofit advocacy group for organ donation.
His floragraph is one of 72 that will line a pathway of flowery hearts representing “the highs and lows that life has to offer,” according to a statement from LifePoint, a Charleston-based organization that coordinates donations statewide.
The float, titled “Journeys of the Heart,” will roll past television cameras around the halfway mark in the two-hour telecast on ABC, NBC, HGTV and the Hallmark channel, according to Mark Johnson, a LifePoint spokesman. One of 37 floats in the procession, it will follow the “Equestrian Unit Ondar” and the “Eagles of Tuva” presentations.
Birdsong’s mother, grandmother and aunt flew to California to watch the event from a grandstand with other donor families, Johnson said. Private sponsors paid for their trip.
“It’s bittersweet for them,” he said. “They’re happy about being honored, but it’s a reminder that their loved ones are no longer with them for Christmas and the new year.”
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.
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