Bridge to Life was proud to once again participate in and provide sponsorship for Donate Life’s float for the 129th Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, CA on January 18, 2018. Celebrating its 15th year, the float serves as an annual tribute to organ and tissue donors and creates an opportunity for donor families and transplant recipients to inspire others to give the gift of life.
This year’s float, entitled “The Gift of Time”, consisted of a vibrant background inspired by the ancient civilizations of Mexico and featured four gigantic colorful macaws. Over 14,000 flowers were used on the float which featured 44 floral portraits honoring organ donors who gave the ultimate gift of life. Seventeen organ and tissue recipients and organ donation advocates were chosen to ride on the float.
The riders included former NFL quarterback and coach Sam Wyche and baseball legend Rod Carew.
Just over a year ago, Wyche received a heart transplant at Carolinas HealthCare System’s Carolinas Medical Center, only hours before he was to be transferred to hospice care. Since his operation he is staying healthy and focusing on increasing awareness on the need for more organ, eye and tissue donors.
Wyche will be the fourth South Carolina organ recipient to be honored as a float rider in the fifteen years of the Donate Life Rose Parade Float program. Bridge to Life is proud to make this opportunity possible through a co-sponsorship with LifeShare of The Carolinas and Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.
Carew also received a heart transplant, his donor being former San Francisco 49er Konrad Reuland who passed away from a ruptured brain aneurysm at the age of 29. Konrad’s family was present for the dedication of the float in Pasadena.
In an interesting confluence of stories, while Wyche was awaiting his heart transplant, Carew called him on the phone to learn more about expectations during the wait. Neither man knew each other prior, and they had not met in person until a few days ago. Bridge to Life was proud to facilitate and document their meeting at the float activities in Pasadena.
Video courtesy of NBC Nightly News
Part of the event includes a project called “Hearts for Heroes” which Aaron Gilchrist of Bridge to Life has presented since 2010. Each year hand-painted hearts are symbolically “donated” to the organ donor families honored on the Donate Life float. Rod Carew was honored to give Konrad’s family one of these hearts at this year’s event.