Alex, in Mexico, daydreaming by the sea.

Alex Encila will be honored during the 2022 Rose Parade that takes place in Pasadena, Calif., on New Year’s Day. A floral rendition of his photo, called a floragraph, will be featured on the Donate Life parade float, which honors the life-saving legacies of organ donors across the country. As we get closer to this momentous event, we want to share more about Alex, his talents, his family, and his legacy as an organ, eye and tissue donor.

Alex’s mom, Annabelle Encila Pendon, shares that her son was a kind and funny guy.

“You would first notice his smile and big dimples,” she says.

She recalls memories of Alex and his love of food. After dinner, Alex could eat two or three bowls of ice cream – vanilla or strawberry were his favorites. He was always eating – rice, Thai or Chinese food, anything spicy! Annabelle attributes his voracious appetite to his lust for life; he felt whole when he could hike, fish or play sports.

He took pride in his work ethic and being able to buy things for himself. Annabelle owned her own dry-cleaning business, and Alex would work for her, learning new skills, to earn money to buy video games, his beloved Smart T.V., and even his first car.

Alex loved basketball, but when he didn’t make the high school team, he wanted to work with a private trainer. Annabelle couldn’t afford it, but this didn’t deter Alex. His friends at the local YMCA let him in to work out, and Alex coached youth basketball for more time on the court.

Donor, Alex Encila, playing basketball

Alex made friends everywhere. He played guitar, wrote his own songs, and he could easily connect with others through music. His friends were special to him. They say that he had a way of listening that made them feel valued.

Alex passed away at the age of 20 from a head injury at the gym. He wasn’t a registered organ donor, but Annabelle felt that organ donation was the right choice for her son who always tried to help others. 

“I thought, ‘I will see him through others.’ Basically, with his gift, he will live on,” Annabelle says.

Days after losing Alex, Annabelle discovered his car covered in flowers in the driveway. One card read: “Alex changed my life. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here.”

Annabelle continues to receive text messages and notes from people who were influenced by Alex’s guidance and encouragement.

“Alex was a great friend to me when others weren’t. You raised a great guy! I will be praying for you and your family.”

“Alex was the first to tell me I should record music. Today, I manage a studio for a record label and am recording music because of Alex’s influence.”

Today, Annabelle is close to her son’s lung recipient, Donald, who is grateful for the chance to meet his future grandchildren. He also shares that he’s a good sleeper and loves to eat – just like Alex. 

Alex, a budding photographer, enjoyed being creative.
Annabelle and Alex under the open desert sun.