I got this iPhone picture from Annie the other day – a picture of her placing dedicated roses in the Family Circle Garden…
Annie’s rose reads:
In memory of Jay Gulotta. In memory of Jay Gulotta who gave life to others! We love you Anne, Elizabeth, and JR
My rose reads:
In memory of Kari Westberg. Kari, it’s been almost 10 years. You've given me so much more than breath and life; you've given me your friends. They share as if they were with you yesterday; they'll never forget you. Love, Steve
Melissa’s rose reads (she’ll post more about her rose for Chloe later…):
In memory of Chloe. who saved me when no one else could. You were our miracle on that beautiful day in June.
Tomorrow morning, somewhere between 4 and 5am in California, Annie and 23 others, along with a handful of support folks will be gathering in the hotel lobby and getting on a bus… They’ll probably descend on Von’s – a grocery store on the way to the parade line-up… They’ll tool around Von’s tossing whatever they want for a quick breakfast into a few carts – several of them will line up at the Starbuck’s counter, baffling the poor customers who came in at 5am expecting no wait... It will be the most fun they've ever had in a grocery store. Then they’ll load back into the bus and eat whatever they bought on the way to the parade grounds… The Donate Life Float is early in the parade this year – the 10th entry – the 4th float, so they won’t have to wait too long! They told me that turning the corner onto Colorado Boulevard, and seeing the walls of people on both sides, is something you just need to experience – it’s amazing… They were right. Around a million people gather along the parade route – they start plotting out their spots at around Noon, the day before, and they party all night… Before turning that corner, I had been calling out and engaging people on the pre-parade route – then we hit the corner and I saw all of those people. A few of my fellow riders looked over and questioned why I had suddenly gotten quiet. For the briefest of moments – I was speechless.
Annie is riding the float this year to honor her husband Jay, and the gifts they gave… She’s also riding the float as thanks for all she does in telling others about organ donation. Her loss is immeasurable – but what she has done, and what she will continue to do to help people like me get the gifts we need to live is also immeasurable.
Finally – I want to post something that made me smile, that I completely stole from another float rider, Glenn Matsuki, who keeps an amazing blog titled Donate Life Organ & Tissue Donation … It’s about Nicholas Green, another of the seventy-six floragraph honorees – but it’s also about one of the people instrumental in making this happen every year – Bryan Stewart… Bryan’s energy and passion for what he does for this cause is beyond amazing. I can’t even imagine the lives he’s touched over the years… Here is Glenn’s December 28 posting, taken from the Contra Costs Times, titled “Sacrifice on Display”:
Bryan Stewart has dedicated his professional career to promoting organ donation.
(Andy Holzman/Staff Photographer)
SOURCE: Contra Costa Times
Reg Green's son Nicholas was killed 15 years ago, but his legacy has lived on in seven strangers who were saved by transplants from his organs.
And now that legacy will be highlighted for millions to see on New Year's Day when Nicholas Green's portrait will be featured along with dozens of other donors on a Rose Parade float dedicated to organ donation.
In the form of a 30-foot tall phoenix - the mythical bird symbolizing rebirth - the float will be decorated with red roses, orange and yellow chrysanthemums and violet orchids.
The real highlight will be tucked in the phoenix's tail feathers - portraits of 76 organ donors, made of crushed corn, onion seed, cinnamon and flax.
The portraits have all been prepared by relatives of the deceased donors, like Reg Green.
"Overwhelmingly there is a feeling of gladness that all these millions of people will be introduced to your loved one," Green said.
"It's been a long time since he was killed and the fact that he is still remembered is very gratifying."
Nicholas was killed at age 7 by highway robbers while vacationing with his family in Italy in 1994. His parents donated his heart, liver, two kidneys, corneas and pancreas cells to help save the lives of seven Italians.
Reg Green, who has since become a worldwide spokesman for organ donation and started a La Cañada-based foundation for the cause, said the act of preparing the portraits was therapeutic for himself and his family.
"We were all together working on this project to try and bring his image to life ... we were discussing what color exactly his eyes were, and his hair ... there was great intimacy," Green said.
"It was even a bit of a wrench to have to come home and leave the photograph."
The float is sponsored by OneLegacy, Southern California's regional organ donation processing company.
Over the past eight years, ideas for the organization's floats have stemmed from the simple, like the first year's bridge design, to bolder metaphorical statements, like a design that had colorful flowers growing out of a fallen tree to symbolize new life after death.
This year's phoenix design will be the largest and most extravagant yet.
Helping to spearhead the float-building effort is Bryan Stewart of Northridge, the nonprofit's vice president of communications.
"Every year I put a lot of heart into all of this, and in many ways it's my Christmas gift to myself," Stewart said.
Stewart's dedication had him working on a few last-minute projects on Christmas Eve morning, but for him, telling the world about the act of giving gives him the real gift.
Stewart had little experience with organ donation when he was hired in 2001, but the job quickly became almost like a calling.
Within months he helped launch California's "Donate Life" organization, which does statewide advocacy for organ donations and manages the state's massive donor registry with more than 6 million registrants. He also became board president of the nationwide "Donate Life" organization.
But one of the highest-profile jobs that Stewart has taken in the past seven years is helping to design and build the "Donate Life" Rose Parade float.
Every year more than 60 million people in 200 countries around the world sit in front of their television sets on New Year's Day to watch brilliantly decorated floats make their rounds in the annual Rose Parade.
"Every day I wake up excited ... this doesn't feel like a job," Stewart said.
"I get to share with people a beautiful message about bringing life to a situation that seems to be all about death. I am inspired every day by amazing people and amazing families."
New Year’s 2000, I really wasn’t sure if I was going to see another one – I had been waiting for almost 2 ½ years for lungs, and I wasn’t sure how much more I had in me… Tomorrow will be 2010 – for me, because of a beautiful girl from Iowa, and because of her family. She is in my heart and on my mind always. Thank you for 2010, Kari…
Happy New Year!!!