The Rose Parade is America’s New Year celebration that showcases the very best of community spirit and love. This year marked the 13th appearance of the Donate Life float in the parade and several AMAT organizational members were present to honor donor families and recipients. Here’s a recap!
Sierra Donor Services was honored to send the Perez Family to honor their family member, Marina Perez, who became a donor in 2012. It was a bittersweet week spent remembering the good times and focusing on the good that can come from donation. The family attended the Floragraph Breakfast; they helped decorate the float (including mom, Nicole, lovingly placing Marina’s floragraph on the float), and they participated in the float judging. One of the most touching moments was when Marina’s baby sisters, Natalie and Madalina, were able to be close to her floragraph and were chatting with Marina about what they remember, “Hi Sissy, I remember when you used to put make up on me.” It was a wonderful way to honor a beautiful, generous young lady who was wise beyond her thirteen years.
Donor Network West joined the 2016 Donate Life Float in celebration of Sisto Fuentes and the lives he saved, including that of his family friend, George Grimm. Sisto, a selfless giver, was honored with a floragraph proudly displayed next to George, a float rider and one of four lives saved by Sisto’s generous act of donation. The Rose Parade festivities also served as the perfect backdrop for three of Sisto’s brothers to finally meet George, the man in whom Sisto’s heart lives on.
LifeLink Foundation highlighted and shared a courageous story of donors and families following a 2014 Venice plane crash. Ommy Irizarry, and his daughter, Oceana, were memorialized for both the lives they led and the gifts they gave. Oceana saved the lives of three people, and Ommy’s gift of tissue donation changed the lives of dozens of others. LifeLink Foundation shared a special press release and supported the Rose Parade celebration through all of their social media networks.
NJ Sharing Network was proud to officially send New Jersey representatives to Pasadena for the 2016 Parade of Roses. It was an amazing opportunity to remember those who gave, honor those who received, and give hope to those who continue to wait. It was also a time to remember those who have passed waiting for life-saving transplant.
Bridge to Life, Ltd. was the proud sponsor of the Betsy Niles’ floragraph for the 2016 Parade of Roses. With the help of Sigma Pi International Fraternity – Montclair State University Chapter, Betsy’s family was sent off in style. NJ Sharing Network was proud to honor our heroes and collaborate with Bridge to Life, Ltd. for the third year in a row.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebrates the life of a great man and his ability to bring together an entire nation. Dr. King believed that we would eventually live in a society where the content of our character defined us: not the color of our skin. He believed that every person would and should have the same inalienable rights ensured by the constitution, and he put his life on the line to protect this ideal. From Selma, to Montgomery, to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, Dr. King endured mass hatred, bigotry, ignorance, and a lack of personal safety – all in the name of equality. And, he did so selflessly.
On Monday, January 18, we celebrate this spirit of sacrifice and selflessness. We celebrate the life of a man who preached non-violence, fought for freedom and justice for all, and focused on the power of unconditional love.
And what of unconditional love? Where is its place in lifesaving and enhancing organ, eye and tissue donation?
One needn’t look any further for the answer than the donors and donor families in this county. In 2015 alone, more than 12,000 individuals gave the Gift of Life (deceased and living donation combined). More than 30,000 enhanced lives through tissue donation after passing, a no less heroic legacy, and in the decades prior, still more heroes made it possible for others to live.
Simply put: Donors epitomize unconditional love.
The same can be said of donor families who, in the depths of despair, on the most difficult day of their lives, exhibit unconditional love by consenting to organ donation or honoring the wishes of their loved ones. Not knowing where their loved one’s gifts will go, and knowing fully they’ll likely save complete strangers, unconditional love is exemplified.
Dr. King dreamed of a world where neighbors would help neighbors simply because it was the right thing to do – that members of our communities would help others, regardless of their race or religion, for no other reason than a responsibility to the betterment of mankind.
He once stated, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
Each day, donors and donor families in our nation and around the world answer that very question.
And they do so lovingly … selflessly … unconditionally.
Story from Michigan Eye Bank
When Elton Monroy Durán visited the United States he couldn’t have guessed where his artistic journey would take him.
“I asked God two questions,” he said. “First, I wanted to know if I am an artist. Second, what is the purpose of my existence? I received this answer: ‘Painting a message of life.’”
Durán’s work is a testament to the far-reaching impact of eye, organ and tissue donation. Although he himself is not a donor family member or transplant recipient, Durán said he felt compelled to promote awareness of donation and transplantation through his art in a collection called “American Corpus.”
Durán’s work is a testament to the far-reaching impact of eye, organ and tissue donation.
“I want to save lives through art,” Durán said. A native of Mexico, Durán recently visited the Detroit area to further promote and explore his art. It was during his time in Detroit that he was inspired to start “American Corpus,” and began work on the series of large-scale acrylic paintings on canvas.
“Art is extremely powerful,” he said. “It can touch people very deeply. Education begins when we allow our inner artistic sensibility to speak to us.” He has been active in the local arts scene, exhibiting “American Corpus” at 555 Galleries in Detroit, Detroit River Days and Wyandotte Street Art Fair, where he won Best in Show. At each of his events, Durán has encouraged people to join the Michigan Organ Donor Registry. He said he has distributed about a thousand donor registration cards.
“Life is wonderful, and life with awareness can make us loving people,” he said. Durán has also been closely involved with the Michigan Eye-Bank, working to promote our mission of restoring sight and lives through corneal transplantation. Two of Durán’s works hang in the Michigan Eye-Bank’s office. “The Michigan Eye-Bank is a place with many special people doing extraordinary work,” Durán said. “I have tremendous respect and appreciation for them.” He said he has been pleased with people’s responses to his message.
“The gift of sight is something to celebrate,” he said. “Without it, we would not be able to appreciate art and its colors.” Artistic Vision Mexican artist promotes eye, organ and tissue donation