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Donate Life 2014 Rose Parade float brings volunteers with a passion

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Some people decorate Rose Parade floats for the fun of it, or as part of the Pasadena experience, or as part of a service organization. Donate Life volunteers do it because they have a passion to spread the word about organ donations. We talked with two of those volunteers, Debbie Martin and Joy Weller at Phoenix Decorating Company’s Rosemont Pavilion on Friday.

The Donate Life Rose Parade Float organization, which does receive funds from Donate Life to build the float, recruits volunteers from across the country, Europe, and even as far away as Asia. “A group comes from Taiwan every year and brings a transplant [recipient] with them,” Martin said.

The project is so popular with employees of the California DMV, which actively promotes organ donation, that the various offices throughout the state have lotteries to choose who will come to put on the dry materials on Saturdays in December, Martin shared.

Martin and Weller come because both had husbands who received heart transplants. They met in a support group at Loma Linda University Medical Center, and have volunteered so consistently that they now help to manage the other volunteers.

The float organization supplies the flat boxes used to gather the snipped floral material and the plastic cups that hold white glue to all the Phoenix decorators. This brought some confusion, as volunteers from other floats would come to their glue station for refills. Martin shared how Phoenix art director Lyn Lofthouse had a great time humorously letting the folks know just where not to get their glue.

Donate Life has been in the Rose Parade since 2004 and has won several awards. The 2014 Float, “Light Up the World,” features an eclectic collection of giant lanterns that display floragraphs of organ donors. Riders and walkers are organ recipients, donors, or family members of organ donors.

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