On New Year’s Day, local kidney recipient, Juan Carlos Montanez, will represent Colorado on the 17th annual Donate Life Rose Parade float in the nationally televised Rose Parade. The float has become the world’s most visible campaign to inspire donation. Juan Carlos will be joined by 25 other people from across the country whose lives have also been touched by donation and transplantation.
The 2020 Donate Life Rose Parade float, Light in the Darkness, highlights the power of unity, light and love, as celebrated during Southeast Asia’s Diwali, or the Festival of Lights, a celebration of light shining in the darkness. The many lives touched by donation embody the hope inherent in this festival, and reflects the hope Juan Carlos experienced after receiving his transplant.
In 2009, while working abroad, Juan Carlos was diagnosed with acute End-Stage Renal Disease and placed on the waiting list for a kidney transplant. After six years on nightly peritoneal dialysis, Juan Carlos, then 41, received the gift of life with a transplant in July 2015. He is forever grateful for his donor’s gift of life, which is one of the reasons he has dedicated his life to bringing awareness to this cause.
“My transplant gave me hope after some of the hardest times of my life, just as organ, eye and tissue donation is often the first spark of light families see when in their darkest moments. The opportunity to honor their loved ones’ legacy provides hope and light to both grieving donor families and grateful recipients, like me,” Juan Carlos said.
Ahead of his appearance in the parade on Dec. 18, Juan Carlos will visit the Westminster Driver License Office. He wants to thank Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles team members who have committed to asking Colorado residents to sign up donors. Juan Carlos will hand out roses to them as a thank you for the work they do daily in registering donors. The DMV’s close partnership and the commitment of its team members play an integral part in registering thousands of Coloradans each year. Many who sign up to become an organ, eye and tissue donor do so at the DMV. This year, Colorado earned the top spot in the nation for its Donor Designation Rate—the rate at which individuals join the state organ and tissue donor registry as a percentage of licensed drivers and ID cardholders.
“We are proud to share Juan Carlos’s story of survival and his dedication to raising awareness for organ, eye and tissue donation with a global audience at the Rose Parade,” said Sue Dunn, president and CEO of Donor Alliance, the federally designated non-profit organization that facilitates organ and tissue donation in Colorado and most of Wyoming. “We are also grateful that he is able to take some time to thank some of our front-line partners who work so diligently to sign up as many donors as possible. Without their dedication, our lifesaving work would not be possible.”
Juan Carlos’s participation in the parade is sponsored by Donor Alliance. The organization has funded float participants with the Donate Life float for more than a decade. The Parade will start at 8 a.m. PST on January 1, 2020 and be broadcast live in the U.S. by broadcast partners ABC, NBC, HGTV, Hallmark Channel, Univision and more. Check local broadcast listings for more information. For more information about the 2020 Donate Life Rose Parade float, visit DonateLifeFloat.org.