One by one, they told the stories of 44 people, young and old. Most of them gave complete strangers the gift of life through organ donation.
Those 44 donors are being honored at the 2018 Rose Parade on Donate Life’s float, which was unveiled Tuesday for the first time. The float’s theme is the “Gift of Time.”
“Our float, ‘The Gift of Time,’ is specifically about that extra time that is given to those who’ve gotten a transplant, who would not be with us, but are here today and celebrating life,” float chairman Tom Mone said.
Donor Elaine Jones has given twice. She gave an uncle her kidney and part of her liver to 9-year-old Jaylee Bou.
“Just to look at her and know that she’s here because of me was just overwhelming. And when I get to see her now, I’m like, I don’t like to take credit, but to say, wow, she’s here because of me and she’s part of me,” Jones said.
The images of each of the 44 donors will be displayed on the float.
Among them is also 17-month-old Malaikye Payne. He fell into a coma after being physically abused by his mother’s boyfriend and never recovered.
“We did not receive that miracle but when the fog of grief lifted, we realized that we did receive a miracle – it was just not for our family. It was for four families that were desperately waiting for the gift of life and that’s exactly what our baby did,” his grandmother, Rachel Rodriguez, said.
Malaikye saved the lives of four people.
Baltimore Raven’s player Konrad Reuland’s organs saved three. His heart and kidney went to baseball legend Rod Carew.
“This all is making Konrad’s legacy alive, is keeping him alive in the hearts and in the thoughts of other people, so it helps in that way,” Reuland’s mother, Mary, said.
The Air Force squadron of organ donor, Major Benjamin “Chex” Meier will kick off the Rose Parade with a special fly-over in his memory.