Date: 11/4/2013

Parade Float carries Messages from the Heart, Donation Recipients

Schererville resident Linda Ramos will be riding on the Donate Life 2014 Rose Parade float representing Northwest Indiana.

Schererville resident Linda Ramos had one wish — to have more time to spend with her family. At 33 years of age, she had congestive heart failure, diabetes, kidney failure and was going blind. Two and one half years later, the gift of time came to Ramos in the form of a pancreas transplant from a complete stranger. She now has the chance to do something she never could before — live life to the fullest.

“My life is now amazing,” she said. “Everything I do in life now is with passion. I am at every event my daughter is in; cheering her on. I started running and have competed in more than 55 road races. I work as an occupational therapy assistant. But, while I want my story to touch people, my story is not about me. It is about the 120,000 people on the organ donation waiting list. They deserve the same happy ending.”

Area families are invited to join Ramos, Community Healthcare System staff members and Gift of Hope representatives at a ceremony to honor all organ and tissue donors, 6 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 6 at the Center for Visual and Performing Arts.

At the ceremony, roses are personally dedicated then go on to make up the Donate Life float in the 2014 Rose Parade. Each of the roses sponsored by Community Hospital in Munster, St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago and St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart will carry tags with messages of love from the donor families. Pancreas recipient Linda Ramos will be riding on the float, representing Northwest Indiana.

“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 gift of life.”

Light Up the World is the name of Donate Life’s 2014 Rose Parade float entry. It serves to inspire all Americans to join in and consider organ, eye and tissue donation. To coincide with the 2014 Rose Parade theme “Dreams Come True,” the 11th Donate Life parade entry will transport 31 riders representing deceased organ, eye and tissue donors, living donors and transplant recipients. A pathway of looping hearts will be lined with 81 memorial floragraph portraits of donors who are remembered every step of the way. The float’s collection of joyful hearts represents new life made possible after transplantation.

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 host their own annual Donate Life Rose Ceremony to provide another opportunity to meet with donor families again and thank them for their kindness and courage. Transplant recipients also have an opportunity to relate to the families how the donor’s gift has impacted their lives.

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

For more information about this year’s event, please contact Connie Jusko at 219-852-6411 or Jana Lacera at 219-836-6862.