Late Indiana University police officer, tissue donor to be honored during 2022 Tournament of Roses Parade

The family of a Hoosier man who saved lives by being a tissue donor is traveling to Pasadena, California, today to honor his life on a national stage and raise awareness about how important it is to be a donor.

Indiana University South Bend Police Officer Levell Pace was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease in 2002 and needed a kidney transplant. He was about to be placed on the national transplant waiting list when he died unexpectedly of a heart attack at age 34. He made a selfless decision to provide healing to others through tissue and cornea donation.

His widow, Melissa, and her sister, Susan Jackson, left for California early this morning from Indianapolis International Airport to join other donor families from throughout the country at the 2022 Tournament of Roses Parade.

Accompanied by Marti Cooper​, a community outreach coordinator with Donate Life Indiana and Indiana Donor Network, the three will participate in a private Donate Life rose placement ceremony Wednesday, then interact with other donor families before helping decorate the Donate Life float Thursday. A floragraph was created to honor Pace’s selfless decision to save lives and will be displayed on the Donate Life float during the parade on New Year’s Day. Friday, the group will witness judging of all parade floats during the day and attend a New Year’s Eve celebration in the evening.

Saturday, they will be in the grandstands for the parade, watching for Pace’s floragraph.

Looking for the good in others came naturally to Pace, his family said. Always armed with a smile, he’d give anyone the last $5 out of his wallet if they needed it. His spirit of giving carried over into everything Pace did, from serving his community as a police officer to signing up to be an organ and tissue donor.

Pace graduated from Jimtown High School in Elkhart, Indiana, where he played football and cultivated a lifelong love of the sport. After high school, he worked various jobs until he became a security guard at Indiana University South Bend and discovered his life’s calling — to be a police officer. Around campus, Pace was known for always going above and beyond to answer the call.

His legacy lives on through those Pace helped as a tissue donor and through Melissa, who is a longtime volunteer advocate for Donate Life Indiana and Indiana Donor Network.

“My service is the best gift I can give Levell,” Melissa said.

Today, more than 1,000 Hoosiers await a lifesaving organ transplant while more than 100,000 Americans are on the national transplant list. Despite age or medical history, anyone can sign up to be a donor online at Donate Life Indiana. Learn more about Indiana Donor Network online.

Indiana Donor Network’s mission is to save and enhance the quality of life through organ, tissue and eye donation and transplantation. Its vision is to be a leader in organ and tissue recovery. Founded in 1987, the organization coordinates organ donation in 85 of the state’s 92 counties and serves Indiana’s transplant hospitals, including Indiana University Health’s network of hospitals, Ascension St. Vincent and Lutheran Health Network. With headquarters in Indianapolis, the organization also has offices in Fort Wayne, South Bend and Evansville and staff throughout the state.

# # #


The decision to become an organ, tissue and eye donor is a decision to give the gift of life. Indiana Donor Network serves as the vital link between donors and patients waiting for lifesaving organ transplants, healing tissue and corneas to restore sight. The organization is the state’s federally designated organ recovery organization and an accredited tissue bank. Its team of more than 250 dedicated professionals is committed to saving and healing lives through donation and transplantation, championing the cause through education and outreach and supporting donor families in their time of need. For more or to sign up as a donor, visit Indiana Donor Network online.

Indiana Donor Network® and the Indiana Donor Network Foundation® are federally registered trademarks.


Since 1998, Donate Life Indiana has been the state-authorized nonprofit organization responsible for managing the Indiana donor registry. Its mission is to save lives by creating opportunities for all Indiana citizens to sign up on the organization’s official state registry while striving to raise awareness for organ, eye and tissue donation and transplantation through public education. For more, visit Donate Life Indiana online.