Newsroom

Date: 11/8/2011

Rose Parade Float to Carry Messages from the Heart; Honor Organ Donors

With a design inspired by floral clocks, the 2012 Donate Life float will carry donor families, living donors and transplant recipients as part of the Rose Bowl Parade. Anchoring the float is a 30-foot clock tower with a dial that reminds everyone to make each passing day count.

There were tears and smiles of remembrance as families gathered with Community Healthcare System staff members and Gift of Hope representatives to honor the area’s organ and tissue donors.

The ceremony was held Nov. 1 at the Center for Visual and Performing Arts to dedicate roses that will make up the Donate Life float in the 2012 Rose Parade. Each of the 55 roses sponsored by Community Hospital in Munster, St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago and St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart now carry tags with messages on their vials of love from the donor families.

“These dedicated roses and the tributes they carry add special meaning not only for the families of our organ and tissue donors, but serve to inspire others to become organ, eye and tissue donors as well,” said John Gorski, Chief Operating Officer, Community Healthcare System. “Every day at the hospitals of Community Healthcare System, we witness the powerful ways in which tissue donations touch lives. Supporting the Donate Life float is just one of the ways we honor and remember donors and their generous contributions.”

With a design inspired by floral clocks, the 2012 Donate Life Rose Parade float will carry donor families, living donors and transplant recipients as part of the Rose Bowl events Monday, January 2 in Pasadena, Calif. A rose dedication garden on the float will honor more than 3,000 people; each rose will include a vial with a personal message honoring a loved one. Anchoring the float is a 30-foot clock tower with a dial that reminds everyone to make each passing day count.

Year round, the hospitals of Community Healthcare System: Community Hospital in Munster, St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago and St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart partner with Donate Life America to raise awareness regarding eye, organ and tissue donations. The hospitals decided to host the first Donate Life Rose Ceremony to provide another opportunity to meet with donor families again and thank them for their kindness and courage. Transplant recipients were also in attendance to relate to the families the impact the donor’s gift has had on their lives.

Pancreas recipient and Schererville resident Linda Ramos told those in attendance that there hasn’t been a day that has gone by since her transplant that she hasn’t thanked her donor for all the things she is now able to do: “I’ve been a Girl Scout leader; a softball team mom; I follow my daughter around everywhere!”

Cornea recipient Kathleen Sojka, an emergency department nurse, said she can see because of the gift her donor and their family gave her. “I never take it for granted — what a wonderful thing my donor did for me,” she said.

“The rose ceremony ensures that families know that we won’t forget their loved one’s contribution and celebrates their life and generosity,” said Registered Nurse Cheryl Perry. In August of 2011, Perry tragically lost her 54 year-old husband Anthony to a motorcycle accident. She said that when the call came to confirm him as an organ donor, she was ready.

“The decision gave me peace,” Perry said. “From the bad thing that happened, something good could come of it. I had a real giving husband. He was a generous person. This was his final gift.”

Organ and tissue donations save and heal hundreds of thousands of adults and children each year in the U.S. alone. Indiana residents can register their intent to be organ and tissue donors while obtaining or renewing their drivers’ license. Registration also is accepted at www.donatelifeindiana.org.