Donate Life Rose Parade Float: Out of tragedy and pain comes immense pride
Laura Frnka, LifeGift Director of Communications
Friday, January 7, 2011
Something tells me that Michael and Sheree Jones of Katy, Texas, will never forget how they celebrated New Year’s 2011.
Thanks to Bridge to Life, LTD (www.bridgetolifesolutions.com) the Jones family spent the holiday paying tribute to their son, Chad, who was honored on this year’s Donate Life Rose Parade Float as an organ and tissue donor. A floragraph of Chad, a portrait made of all floral and natural materials, was one of 60 organ and tissue donors from across the country who were remembered for giving the ultimate gift – the gift of life.
When the opportunity presented itself and LifeGift was asked to select a donor family for this amazing experience, without hesitation, I thought of the Jones family. Michael and Sheree were one of the very first donor families I had the privilege of meeting when I started working at LifeGift last year. They came up to LifeGift to talk about the nonprofit organization they started to keep Chad’s legacy alive – Donate 4 Life (www.donate4life.com). Donate 4 Life strives to increase the number of organ and tissue donors on the Donate Life – Texas Registry (www.donatelifetexas.org).
There was something about them that immediately tugged at my heart. Perhaps it was the pain I could detect in Sheree’s eyes while she tried to convey enthusiasm for this new nonprofit or maybe it was the way Michael got choked up when he talked about his son. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I knew I had encountered good people – good people who experienced the worst kind of tragedy – losing a child.
Sheree was in London when I emailed her and said I had a “neat opportunity” for them. She was ecstatic about chance to honor her son, who saved the lives of four people, on a national platform.
She sent me a note the Monday after they returned from Pasadena, saying that they will never forget the experience … that it was an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Sheree went onto say that she and her family beamed with pride when they saw Chad’s floragraph on the float – it was a moment that they’d never forget.
Nothing makes you completely whole after losing someone you love, but I personally hope this experience in Pasadena brought some healing to the Jones family. Although they experienced unspeakable grief, they also experienced the pride and joy of sharing their son’s gifts with millions.
For photos and videos of the 2011 Donate Life Rose Parade Float, visit www.donatelifefloat.org.