Life of late 5-year-old Livingston girl to be commemorated in floragraph ceremony

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The friends and family members of a five-year-old township girl who died last year are set to remember her though a medium they say is reflective of her personality – flowers.

Riley Kogen died from a medical condition on Dec. 19, 2013, a few days after her fifth birthday. During her final days, her family members decided that she should be an organ donor.

“We felt that the gift of life was something special we could do to ensure that Riley’s memory lives on,” family members explain on the website of Riley’s Dance, a foundation they started in her name after her passing.

This Thursday, the NJ Sharing Network, a non-profit organ procurement and donation promotion organization, will celebrate her life, and the double kidney donations she made that saved the lives of two women.

At the ceremony, Kogen’s parents will be putting the finishing touches on a “floragraph” of their daughter.

The depiction, made completely out of flowers and other natural materials, will be part of the “Donate Life” float, which will take part in the annual New Year’s Day Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif.

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“The gift of life that Riley gave to two women is priceless,” NJ Sharing Network Foundation Executive Director Elisse Glennon said in a release about Thursday’s event. “Her legacy will indeed be an inspiration to the thousands of people across the country who will be watching the Rose Parade.”

After her passing, Kogen’s family created Riley’s Dance, a non-profit that assists people awaiting a life-saving organ donation, or who have recently received one. The organization, which operates as a family fund under the NJ Sharing Network Foundation, financially supports the medical bills of organ recipients in need.

“Every individual deserves the opportunity to dance again just as our beautiful daughter used to,” the family explains on its site.

“We are honored to be able to commemorate Riley’s life and her family’s decision to reach beyond their grief to help others with this amazing gift,” Michael Steffaro, Director of Dignity Memorial, said in the release. Bernheim Apter Kreitzman Suburban Funeral Chapel in Livingston, a funeral service provider in the Dignity Memorial network, held funeral services for Riley. Dignity Memorial is also sponsoring the family’s trip to the Rose Bowl. The chapel and Riley’s Dance are co-sponsoring Thursday’s event.

“Working in the funeral industry we understand the heart-wrenching circumstances that surround organ donation.”

Thursday’s ceremony is also set to include a family presentation about Riley’s life, and the charity set up in her honor.

Jessica Mazzola may be reached at jmazzola@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @JessMazzola. Find NJ.com on Facebook.