Her Story Never Ends – My Trip to the Rose Parade
The Rose Parade is truly larger than life and certainly bigger than what you see on TV. The music. The hundreds of lives that have been touched. The heroes of donation. The emotions. The flowers…oh my, the many flowers of every color, smell, shape and size. The 2015 Donate Life Rose Parade Float was grand and exceeded my expectation in all of its beauty!
I had the distinct honor and privilege of accompanying Lifeline of Ohio’s selected donor family, the Harringtons, to the Rose Parade. We spent four days in Pasadena, California celebrating the life of their sister and daughter, organ donor Lindsay Jones – her floragraph adorned the Donate Life Float, aptly named The Never-Ending Story. Lindsay’s gifts of donation were remembered as we placed roses in the dedication garden on the float, alongside 21 other roses marking the lives of Lifeline of Ohio’s pediatric donors in 2014. Nearly 8,000 roses were dedicated in the garden honoring organ, eye and tissue donors.
Floragraph Family Breakfast
At the Donor Family Floragraph breakfast, we had the opportunity to watch a short film on the making of a floragraph and meet Lindsay’s floragraph decorators, Michael and Kathy. They live in California and have been involved in decorating floragraphs for the last few years. It was a special moment when Michael said he felt Lindsay’s spirit guide him as he worked to bring her picture to life.
As part of the breakfast program, Lindsay’s mom, Kathy, participated in a sand ceremony. The sand ceremony represented the donors lives, transplant recipients and living donors who were involved in the float. Prior to Kathy layering the sand into the jar, we passed Lindsay’s sand around our table and reflected on her life and legacy. It was an extremely moving moment.
During the breakfast, one speaker commented, “what the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the butterfly calls the master.”
On New Year’s Eve Day, nearly 600 Donate Life supporters packed in the staging area where the Donate Life Float had been parked for weeks of decorating. We were there to witness the Rose Parade judges taking in its glory and splendor.
When the judges arrived to view the float, they rang a bell, signaling the crowd to be silent. The float music began and the riders and walkers waved at each of us. Tears streamed down many of the judges’ faces as they looked up at the many floragraphs honoring deceased organ, eye and tissue donors.
We were thrilled to see that Lindsay’s floragraph was on the first book on the right side of the float. Kathy was so proud her daughter would help lead the way down Colorado Boulevard as millions would watch the parade on New Year’s Day.
When the second bell rang indicating the judges were finished viewing the float, the crowd erupted into applause and cheers. I knew this was just a glimpse of what we would feel and experience the next morning at the parade.
Parade morning on New Year’s Day was chilly; it was the coldest it had been in Pasadena since 1952! But our hearts were warm as we anxiously awaited the arrival of the Donate Life Float. The parade was beautiful – each float was unique and so full of life. When we caught sight of “The Never-Ending Story’s” amazing butterflies, everyone leapt to their feet wildly cheering!
We gave hugs and high fives and whistled to the riders and walkers! This was the moment Kathy had waited for – her brown-eyed girl was smiling back at us from the Donate Life Float and it was clear, Lindsay’s story truly never ends.
I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to work on the Donate Life float in some capacity since its inception. It’s always been meaningful….but traveling to the parade with the Harringtons and experiencing it firsthand with a wide range of emotions truly recharged my personal and professional batteries. Throughout the parade and float events, we shared stories, tears, laughter and hugs. During the floragraph breakfast, one speaker commented, “what the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the butterfly calls the master.” Each of us can leave a “never-ending story” through organ, eye and tissue donation.