Donate Life Rose Parade Wrap-Up

January 5, 2012

Last week was an amazing time for organ and tissue donation advocates across the country and throughout the world.  Donate Life organizations partnered to build and enter the “One More Day” Donate Life Float in the 123rd Tournament of Roses Parade.  The float generated hundreds of donation related stories in the media and showed the estimated 70 million people watching the Rose Parade that organ and tissue donation saves lives.


This year’s Rose Parade was an especially significant event for organ and tissue donation advocates here in Illinois.  The Donate Life Float featured two riders who call the great state of Illinois home. Alex Rodriguez, of Cicero, was sponsored by Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network riding in honor of his brother Francisco “Paco” Rodriguez.  The second rider, Linda Henning, resides in Crossville and was sponsored by Donor Alliance of Denver, Colorado.  Linda rode in honor of her son, Marc, a former cadet in the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Alex Rodriguez and Linda Henning in front of the Donate Life Float

Both Alex and Linda spent their time in Pasadena building awareness for organ and tissue donation and networking with donor families and recipients from across the United States.  It was truly an amazing time to honor loved ones, make life-long connections, and celebrate the “Gift of Life” that is organ and tissue donation.

Alex Rodriguez sitting next to Paco's heart recipient, Alexis Sloan, on the Donate Life Float

If you would like to learn more about the Donate Life Float and the Rose Parade, check out the links to news stories and resources at the bottom of this post.  To see more pictures of our Illinois float riders, visit the Donate Life Illinois Facebook Page or go to the Donate Life Float Media Center.

National Media Surrounding the Donate Life Float – The parade of life – Two families bond after child’s death saves another

Regional Coverage of Illinois riders and honorees

Fox Chicago News –Friends and Family Honor Boxer Paco Rodriguez

ABC Chicago – Late Chicago boxer to be honored at Rose Parade

Univision Chicago – Niño Azteka será honrado en Los Ángeles

Telemundo Chicago – Murió en el cuadrilátero, pero sigue viviendo

The Denver Post – Organ donors’ families celebrate gift of life at Calif. Event

Carmi Times – Phillipstown represented in Rose Parade

More Resources

Visit the Donate Life Facebook Page for photos of the Illinois riders and honorees.

Go to for more information on the Donate Life Float.

Register your decision to save lives through organ and tissue donation at!


2012 Donate Life Rose Parade Float

December 23, 2011

It’s that time of year when Donate Life America partners with the Rose Parade to build organ and tissue donation awareness across the United States. Each year since 2004, Donate Life has entered a float in the Rose Parade which takes place annually on (or near) New Year’s Day in Pasadena. The partnership with the Rose Parade has inspired countless Americans to register their decisions to save lives through organ and tissue donation.

Rendering of 2012 Donate Life Float

This year, Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network is honoring Francisco “Paco” Rodriguez by sending his family to Pasadena to participate in Donate Life Float activities from December 28th until January 2nd. Paco’s family will help decorate the Donate Life Float, network with donor families and recipients, and spread organ and tissue donation awareness. Alex Rodriguez, Paco’s brother, will even ride on the Donate Life Float during the Rose Parade!

Sonia, wife, and Ginette, daughter, put the finishing touches on Paco's floragraph.

From December 28th until January 2nd, the Donate Life Illinois team will be in Pasadena with the Rodriguez family sharing photos and updates on Facebook and Twitter. Use the hashtag #DonateLifeFloat on Twitter to see updates from Donate Life Illinois and, possibly, other Donate Life organizations.

Happy Holidays!

– Josh

Illinois Float Rider – Rose Parade Slideshow Recap

January 21, 2010

Earlier this week, our 2010 Illinois Rose Parade Float Rider, Anne Gulotta, sent me a link to a nice photo slideshow that she put together documenting her trip to Pasadena. Anne’s son, J.R., created the song “Thank You” that accompanies the photos.

Enjoy and thanks Anne!


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Recap on Award-Winning Donate Life Rose Parade Float

January 2, 2010

Anyone who tuned in to watch the Rose Parade yesterday was treated to an incredible sight as the 2010 Donate Life Rose Parade float made its way around the streets of sunny Pasadena, CA.

This year’s float, titled New Life Rises, caught the attention of millions of eyes nationwide. Throughout the Parade, ABC conducted a text message poll asking viewers to chime in and vote on their favorite float. The winner? None other than our Donate Life float!

The Float also won this year’s Theme Trophy for Excellence in presenting the Parade Theme, “A Cut Above the Rest.” Here is the complete list of all 2010 float award winners.

In addition, if you happened to miss the Parade, you can still see the Donate Life float in action by visiting this video from KLTA. The Donate Life float appears in Part 1 around the 13:00 mark.

Lastly, a few photos from the Parade! Congrats to everyone involved!


Photo by Scott Weersing

Photo by Scott Weersing

Photo by Scott Weersing

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Ride of His Life – Donate Life Rose Parade Float – Judging Recap

January 5, 2009

Back home safe and sound, Steve posted an update yesterday that recaps the judging process for the Donate Life Float. For those that watched the Rose Parade, it was quite overwhelming to see the Donate Life Float front and center for millions of viewers.

The entire OneLegacy and Donate Life California teams are to be commended for another amazing job coordinating this year’s Float. It is because of their hard work and dedication along with the commitment, help and participation of volunteers, transplant recipients and donor family members across the nation that the Donate Life Float earned the “Queen’s Trophy” for the best use of roses.

As Steve notes:

The Donate Life Float received the “Queen’s Trophy” for the best use of roses.  We’re all very proud of that and I know that Laurie, from OneLegacy, is thrilled.  There were over 1,000 roses dedicated to donors from all over the country on her Family Circle Garden in the beautiful, golden stars leading the float including flowers there for Kari, Chloe and Chase.  Laurie is a donor sister, and though this float and our “Queen’s Trophy” means so much to so many – I think it has a little deeper meaning for her.  Congratulations, Laurie – and everyone who helped.

Below is a photo of all the Float riders as well as a video of the judging process. Be sure to check out Steve’s post for the full recap as well as this insightful, touching post from Mayka Mei whose mother was also a float rider.



*You can also check out an additional Donate Life Rose Parade Float video from the CA team here.

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The Ride of His Life – Entry 1

December 19, 2008

As promised in our last post, we’ll be keeping everyone updated with video posts from Chicago lung transplant recipient Steve Ferkau as he heads out to CA to participate as a float rider on the Donate Life Rose Parade Float.

Here’s Steve’s first video blog!


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Chicago Lung Transplant Recipient Prepares for Rose Parade

December 17, 2008

rose-parade-logo-06New Year’s Day is 14 days away. Huh? It happens every year. Things just seem to fly by.

For Donate Life Illinois and the national transplant community, Jan. 1 is always a very special day. While millions of people across the country gather around the television to soak in the annual Rose Parade, attention is called to the importance of organ/tissue donation through the Donate Life Rose Parade Float.

Illinois will be well represented on this year’s float which will honor Secretary of State Jesse White as well as Chicago lung transplant recipient Steve Ferkau. At the end of next week, Steve will be heading out to sunny CA (I have no idea why he’d want to leave our sub-freezing Midwestern winter wonderland) to join 25 other recipients donor family members as float riders. The riders will join others from the transplant community to help put the final touches on decorating the Float.

Steve posted about his upcoming experience last week over on Revive Hope. During his trip, we’ll be sharing Steve’s posts on our blog here as well and we’ve also set up a YouTube channel for him to share some video blogs of his experiences while out at the Rose Parade.

In addition, keep an eye out for WGN-TV’s 9pm newscast this Friday, December 19th as they will be airing a segment called “Chicago’s Very Own” that focuses on organ donation. The segment will feature Steve along with donor family member Tim Joos and some of the fine transplant professionals from Gift of Hope.

Until next time,

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