Julie DeStefano, a Florida-based writer who contributes to General Aviation News, was a rider on the Donate for Life float in the Rose Parade, New Year’s Day. DeStefano was one of 26 people from across the nation who were selected to ride the float.
The Donate for Life float honored organ donors. Its purpose was to “inspire people world-wide to be organ, eye, tissue or blood donors,” DeStefano said. “We hope the tens of millions of people who watched the Rose Parade will discuss donation with their families and sign up with their respective state organ and tissue donor registries.”
Each of the 26 float riders was an organ donation beneficiary. “I received a liver transplant on April 16, 1995…and have been in perfect health ever since,” DeStefano said.
Organ donors were portrayed on the float in the form of floragraphs, or portraits made of flowers. Many were done by the parents, children or other family members of the donors. In addition, more than 1,000 roses at the front of the float carried “personal messages of love, gratitude and hope to a donor, recipient or transplant candidate,” DeStefano said.
“There are currently about 100,000 people on the national organ transplant waiting list,” she pointed out.