Each year the Midwest Transplant Network provides a Donate Life Float in the Rose Parade. The float features flora graphs - portraits made entirely of organic materials such as nuts, seeds, coffee grounds, etc. - of people impacted by organ, eye, and tissue donation. Each year the float will depict a Rose Dedication Garden. This is an opportunity to honor donors, families, recipients, candidates waiting for a transplant, the healthcare heroes who make transplant possible. The Kansas honoree this year was Wichita native Zachary Mendoza. He was in the hospital with a heart-related illness before passing on April 20, 2019. His organs helped four people begin a longer, better quality life. These heroes are honored with a personalized rose placed on the Donate Life Float Rose Dedication Garden, inspiring tens of millions of people nationwide to save lives as donors. Each dedicated rose is placed in a vial that carries a unique, personal message of love, hope and remembrance, and honors donors, recipients and others touched by organ, eye, and tissue donation. Altogether, thousands of roses create the Dedication Garden.
This year's float contained four such dedicated roses from the Jackson County Treasurer's office. Linda Gerhardt, Lisa Miller, and Lori Mellenbruch have each been directly impacted by organ donation, either through family recipients or being a living donor. Each provided a rose and a personal message, with an additional rose and message from the Jackson County Treasurer's Office!