ESPN: The Parade of Life  |  December 30, 2011

This week ESPN’s Rick Reilly wrote a poignant story about a handful of athletes who became organ and tissue donors after their deaths, and will on Monday be celebrated with floragraphs on the Donate Life Float in the annual Tournament of Roses Parade.

Reilly says about the tradition of the float: “It’s a lot for a Monday morning. The Donate Life float feels like both a funeral and a christening, like heartache and heartsong.

It will represent the best of us: the pro fighter Paco Rodriguez, who died in a title bout and whose organs live in five others now; the snowboarding champion Dylan Peters, who was inspired to be a donor when he met Olympic snowboarder and liver recipient Chris Klug; and the Air Force Academy head football manager, suicide victim Marc Henning, whose body was harvested for dozens of tissue grafts, including one to his own mother.

It’s a downer and an upper and a breath-taker all in one. It’s 100 feet of flower- and cinnamon- and split-pea-covered emotion. But it’s helping.

There were 65 million registered donors in the U.S. in 2006. Now there are 102 million. That’s still only 42 percent of 18-and-over Americans, but people are starting to get it: Death can mean life.”

Read the full article here.

Be sure to tune into the Rose Parade and watch for the Donate Life Float on Monday, January 2, 2012 at 8:00 a.m. Pacific time. 

Get our newsletter