The Shepherd’s and LifeCenter Northwest representatives stand in front of the Donate Life Rose Parade float

This New Year’s holiday, LifeCenter Northwest Donor Family Aftercare Manager Ashlei Lind and Donation and Family Advocate Nettie Jensen-our 2019 Values Award Winner-accompanied the family of organ and tissue donor Julie Shepherd to the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California. Julie became a donor at Benefis Health in 2017 and was selected to be honored by LifeCenter Northwest on the 2020 Donate Life Rose Parade float in celebration of her legacy of generosity.

Organizations from across the nation sponsored donor families, living donors, and transplant recipients in participating in many activities. These events allow individuals and families to connect and share their own experience with organ, eye, and tissue donation, and see firsthand the impact of the gift of life for other donor families and transplant recipients.

Each year, floragraphs-floral portraits of deceased donors-are incorporated into the float design to honor donors from across the nation. Julie’s family had the opportunity to meet the decorators who created Julie’s floragraph, one of which was also a donor parent.

Derrek and Lauren Shepherd placing roses in the dedication garden on the Donate Life float

In addition, the group was able to help with some of the final decorating for the Donate Life float. This uniqueexperienceprovides a chance to get an up close look at the intricacies of the extravagant décor, as well as an opportunity to view some of the other floats being completed in the same warehouse.The decorating process was followed by a float judging, in which awards were given out. The Donate Life float won the “Judges Award.”

The LifeCenter crew joined Julie’s family in ringing in the New Year at a celebration hosted by OneLegacy and culminated the trip by gathering on New Year’s Day to watch the Donate Life Float pass by at the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day. It was an immensely beautiful way to honor Julie and celebrate her legacy as we begin a new year.

Julie’s family with her floragraph on the Donate Life Rose Parade float

Ashlei Lind reflects on her experience with the Shepherd’s in Pasadena saying, “This year’s float was absolutely beautiful and the fact that Julie’s floragraph was front and center really had an impact on her parents and siblings. Julie’s mother, who was previously minimally involved with our Aftercare team, found the entire experience healing and comforting. She has shared that her grief has been significant over the past two years, so it was lovely to hear that she would like to help with decorating future Donate Life floats as a way to help other donor families.”

LifeCenter would like to give a huge shout out to OneLegacy for their commitment to uniting the donation and transplantation community in an eventful holiday full of impact and celebration in Pasadena.

LifeCenter is thankful for another memorable and successful year of celebrating the New Year and honoring the legacy of a local donor at the Rose Parade, and for such a touching way to simultaneously wrap up 2019 and enter a new decade. The Rose Parade always serves as an impactful way to promote the importance of organ, eye, and tissue donation, and we are thankful to be a part of a community that continues to raise awareness and unite this vibrant community.

For more photos from the 2020 Rose Parade, click here.