The Donate Life Rose Parade Float – Who Makes It Happen

Another great update and insight from Illinois’ Donate Life Rose Parade float rider Anne Gulotta as she discusses the people who put in the long hours to make the float shine in the national spotlight. In addition, be sure to check out this great post from Steve over at Revive Hope about the tribute song that Anne’s son created for his dad.

T-minus 9 days!


Anne Gulotta

On Saturday December 12th, a great event happened at the National Kidney Foundation in Chicago.  Two families came together to decorate their loved one’s floragraphs and to honor them for the gift of life they gave to others.

These floragraphs of Jay and Cameron will be placed on the 2010 Donate Life float. 76 floragraphs will rise from the ashes bringing hope to others.  I plan to write about “A day in the life of a float rider ” while I’m in Pasadena.  Today, I thought I would share some interesting details about the float.   If you haven’t already please visit  It’s a beautifully illustrated website with photos and information about the event.

Soon, I will embark on a “ride of a lifetime.”  I’m reviewing the agenda that Donate Life puts together for each float rider, and I’m realizing that I will be busier than I thought.  Donate Life and OneLegacy teams have been working for a year to put this event together.  They call themselves Team Donate Life.  There’s an Organization Committee, too.  Steve Ferkau‘s a part of the Organization Committee.  All these folks work together throughout the year to make one thing happen:  An amazing Donate Life Float that will put our issue in front on a national stage for millions to see.

This Year’s theme, New Life Rises, is inspired by the Tournament of Rose parade theme “A Cut Above”, and the Master of Ceremonies this is year is Chelsey “Sully Sullenburger” who safely brought the plane down in the Hudson River and saved 155 lives.  New Life Rises should be the 10th float in line this year, and the Phoenix rising from the ashes 29 feet into the air could not have been a better theme for 2010! The parade commences at 10am CDT.

We are honoring donors who’ve given the gift of life to others, and Jay and Cameron will be two of them. I encourage you to read about the other float riders and floragraphs. I printed them out yesterday, and my goal is to memorize who the float riders are before I arrive in Pasadena. Their  stories are amazing.

Lately, I’ve received emails about different news stories that are being told around the country about the float riders and floragraphs.  Thousands of volunteer workers and countless hours will go into the float decorating before the Parade. A few weeks ago I got a call from Bryan Stewart who is the Wizard of OZ for coordinating the Donate Life float.  He oversees everything that is going on in Pasadena, and I think when I arrive in Pasadena it’s going to be like Dorothy opening the door to the Land of OZ.

Bryan was standing in front of Jay’s floragraph a few weeks ago, and he called me. I got to speak to the two artists that decorated Jay’s floragraph. Jerry and Barbara traveled to the Rosemount Pavilion where hundreds of other volunteer artists met to decorate floragraphs.  Barbara told me of her daughter-in-law that is alive today because of a kidney transplant. She wanted to “give back”, and the story of Jay inspired her to decorate. I have a photo of Barbara and Jerry holding Jay’s floragraph, and I can’t wait to meet them in Pasadena.

I’ve written about the Family Circle Rose Dedication. There will ceremonies to give families and friends a chance to place roses, and there will be thousands of them. Alex O’loughlin, the star of the TV show Three Rivers, recently dedicated a rose  in honor of Fernanado, whose family consented to eye donation through San Antonio Eye Bank because they were fans of the CBS show. Fernando wanted to help people like those on the show.  Alex wrote:

“Fernando’s legacy lives on through his family, friends, and those whose sight he restored through cornea donation.  I will always be inspired by Fernando’s generosity.  Sincerely,  Alex O’Loughlin.”

You still have time to dedicate to the Family Circle Rose Dedication.  The biggest event before the parade will be the float judging that takes place on the afternoon of December 31st. Float decorating will cease, and all float riders will assemble for a dress rehearsal.  The music will play, all float riders will be seated, and the judging will commence. I’ve been told that between the tears and hugs a loud roar and clapping will commence at the end of judging. I have no doubt that the Donate Life Float is one of, if not the most spectacular float with a story and a message like no other.

~ Anne

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