NEW ORLEANS - Amanda Rougee is an eighth-grader at Mount Carmel Academy. She is only 14 but life has forced her to grow up quickly.
Things started spiraling downward in third grade when Amanda's grandfather died.
"My mom went into this deep depression and started drinking and she became an alcoholic," Amanda said.
A few years later her mother, Anita Rougee, died from a brain aneurysm linked to the alcoholism. Amanda was only 11 then but her parents were separated, and she was left to make the decision about her mother's organs.
The doctors explained that through organ donation, she could save lives.
"When they said she could save many people's lives, I knew that was something I wanted to do," Amanda said.
Her mother's heart, lungs, and kidneys were donated.
And Amanda has become friends with all three people who received her mother's organs.
"Having them comfort me makes up for when she couldn't be there to comfort me," Amanda said.
And that comfort comes at the most unexpected times.
"The heart recipient is really close to me because one day I wasn't feeling well and nobody told him anything, but he ended up calling my dad like, ' What is wrong with Amanda.' No one told him anything. No one told him that I was sick or anything, and I had the flu," Amanda said.
Amanda was able to help 3 people directly from the decision to donate her mother's organs but she wants to help more, so she started a foundation called "Takes Heroes to Save Lives."
Amanda points out, "My mom is our hero and all people who give organs are our heroes."
Amanda is a hero herself. About a month ago she was presented with 2018 Louisiana Young Heroes Award by Louisiana Public Broadcasting and the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge.
Amanda shared her story when she accepted her award, and she has spoken at several events now to raise awareness for organ donation.
"I don't like the nerves, but I like giving a speech knowing it can help other people," Amanda admits.
Amanda's mother introduced her to volleyball ..which helped her through some really rough times. Amanda is currently working to build a space to help other kids get involved in volleyball and she already knows what it will be called.
"Anita Garza Rougee Volleyball Training Center," says Amanda.
Amanda was forced to be very independent at a young age without a lot of the help and support that many kids get growing up. And yet whether it's through organ donation or volleyball training, she wants nothing in life but to help other people in any way she can.