Each year, in addition to sponsoring a float rider, non-profit tissue bank AlloSource selects two employees, and an executive leader to attend the Rose Parade and experience the Donate Life Float first-hand. Employees compete for the positions with essays describing what participating would mean to them. The AlloSource participants chosen this year, Heather McDowell and Alan Okerman, and executive Olivia Thompson have since had time to reflect on their experiences at the Rose Parade. Their remarks and several personal photos are below.
“How do you express in words all the emotions you feel as you meet and talk with the incredible families that come to the Rose Parade to be a part of the remarkable Donate Life experience? As I reflect back on last week, two groups come to mind: the donor families and the recipients. The donor families are the most courageous, unselfish individuals you will ever meet, sad but truly at peace knowing they have saved and enhanced lives by their generosity. The recipients are the most thankful and grateful individuals, you cannot capture in words their level of appreciation and awe for what has been given to them. All the families I talked to expressed that they are appreciative of what we (AlloSource) do in this incredible circle of life.”
– Olivia Thompson, Chief Financial Officer
“The 2012 Rose Parade weekend was truly a beautiful, touching, once in a lifetime opportunity. The float’s theme, ‘One More Day…’ tied in beautifully to the Rose Parade theme of ‘Just Imagine…’, reminding us all to make every day count. Seeing 400 volunteers – consisting of donor families, recipients, sponsors, friends and family – come together to remember their loved ones while giving thanks and support to each other was incredibly moving. Not only those involved in bringing the float to life were touched; the judges were also moved as they awarded the float the Special Judge’s Trophy, highlighting outstanding showmanship and dramatic impact. A beautiful way to begin Donate Life’s campaign ’20 Million in 2012!’ Thank you, AlloSource!”
– Heather McDowell, Business Development Coordinator/Records Retention Coordinator
“Going into the Rose Parade trip I was focused on the float and parade. Both were amazing, but it was the people that I will remember. It was like being introduced as a new member of a huge family. The interesting thing about this Donate Life ‘family’ was the overwhelming sense of gratitude. For recipients, they were grateful for the gift they received and the extra time that it gave them. They proudly carried pictures of their donors and genuinely wanted to give some of that time back to help in any way they could. For donors, they were grateful for something good coming out of great sorrow. Some were still working through grief but they were never alone because they were surrounded by other ‘family’ members who were willing to share their experiences or just provide a hug. And speaking of hugs, as a representative of the tissue processing ‘family’ I received many of them, thanking us for what we do. Both recipients and donor families were so grateful for our service!”
– Alan Okerman, Senior Business Systems Analyst