01/06/2017

Teamwork is the Key to Success: Donate Life Float Takes Center Stage in 128th Rose Parade

By: Lori Hartwell
I have watched the Tournament of Roses parade since I was a child, but it took on new meaning and has given me real inspiration since 2004. That was the first year One Legacy headed up an effort to honor the heroes who make lives, including mine, possible by donating organs for transplantation. Gary Foxen, a lung transplant recipient and visionary, came up with the idea of a Rose Parade float that would raise awareness of these heroes. One Legacy made his dream a reality.

 This year’s parade theme was “Echoes of Success,” and it reminds us that no one succeeds alone. “Teammates in Life” was the theme of the Donate Life float, and as it was seen by viewers around the world. It received one of the highest official honors: Best in Theme.

This year’s parade theme was “Echoes of Success,” and it reminds us that no one succeeds alone. “Teammates in Life” was the theme of the Donate Life float, and as it was seen by viewers around the world and we learned that it received one of the highest official honors: Best in Theme.    

RSN was thrilled to be part of the float planning and preparation. Our volunteers helped decorate it, among many others. It was not an easy task making this float a reality: it takes countless hours, financial support and leadership.  

The float depicted a Polynesian catamaran propelled by a team of 24 organ, eye, and tissue transplant recipients rowing in unison and gaining strength from their donors. The sails of the vessel showcased 60 floral portraits of donors. These portraits are museum ready. Of course, the team was not complete without the skill of a transplant surgeon, and the many healthcare professionals that make all these amazing medical breakthroughs happen.  

The ocean waves of the float showcased 1,000 white roses, individually dedicated in memory of donors. Twelve living donors walked alongside the float, carrying flowers in celebration of the life they have given to others and the quality of life they continue to enjoy themselves.

Every year, I tear up thinking about how I am here today because of people who donated their organs and gave the gift of life, and because of the wonderful people who supported and cared for me.  

I imagine and hope that anyone who watched the parade and saw this float will realize how important it is to hug loved ones, and how the “Gift of Life” cannot be taken for granted. More than 120,000 people in the United States are waiting for a life-saving organ. Make sure you have registered to be an organ and tissue donor and tell your loved ones to do the same!

Start the New Year out right by resolving to help others.  

Organ Donation Registry and information: www.donatelife.net

Teammates in Life Float Organizer: www.onelegacy.org

Photos: Scott Weersing