The 2022-23 honoree was Kaylea Curry, a quirky 10-year-old from Fairbanks, Alaska. Her parents, Christy and Joe Curry, made the 3,000-mile trip to sunny California to help decorate the Donate Life Float that displayed their daughter’s smiling portrait along with other honorees from around the country.  

Kaylea Curry saved three lives and restored sight to two others; her parents knew that donation is what their kind, generous daughter would have wanted.

Losing a child is a devastating and often isolating experience. Coming together with other donor families to honor loved ones can lead to connection and friendship.

That’s what Christy and Joe discovered during their Donate Life Rose Parade experience.

“Ultimately, the biggest takeaway from the trip will be the connections we made with some passionate and caring people,” Joe told us. “Your efforts to bring awareness to organ donation and the support that you provide families in need speaks volumes of your character. I think Christy and I both feel like we have made some friendships that will last a lifetime.”

Accompanying the family to Pasadena was Fiona Macy, a LifeCenter’s Donor Family Aftercare Specialist. The entourage included LifeCenter employees Lori Van Slyke, Family Services Specialist, and Jennifer Rodvold, Administrative Assistant III, both of whom made the trip as winners of the company’s Values Award. Activities with the Currys during the three-day trip included shared meals, float decorating parties, and finally, attending the Rose Parade itself.

LifeCenter employees Fiona Macy, Jennifer Rodvold and Lori Van Slyke pose for a photo while behind the scenes with the Donate Life float.

“Thank you all for the wonderful experience,” Joe Curry wrote to the team after returning to Alaska. “As I probably mentioned along the way, this was an event that I would’ve avoided in most cases. In hindsight, I’m so thankful that I was there with such a supportive group of people. For now, I’ll just say that we are fortunate to have met you all and that we’ve gained six new cherished friends.” 

On parade day, the Donate Life Float took the grand prize for its beauty, innovation and message, “Lifting Each Other Up.” It featured a magnificent Chinese street dragon that moved its head and exhaled puffs of smoke. In Chinese culture, dragons symbolize great power, good luck and strength.

As the world’s most visible campaign to inspire organ, eye and tissue donation, the Donate Life Rose Parade® float inspires viewers to save and heal more than one million people in need of organ, eye and tissue transplants each year.