For the first time, Colorado and Wyoming families of organ, eye and tissue donors, transplant recipients and living donors will escort a balloon float in the annual 9NEWS Parade of Lights in downtown Denver Friday, November 30 and Saturday, December 1. The Donate Life Colorado float, titled “Gift of Life” will be a jumbo balloon in the shape of a gift box, representing the hope made possible by organ, eye and tissue donation. Donate Life Colorado is the donor registry for the state, managed by Donor Alliance, the federally-designated, non-profit organ procurement organization and American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB) accredited tissue bank serving Colorado and most of Wyoming.
“During the holidays when many Coloradans are considering ways to give back to their communities, we encourage everyone to register as organ, eye and tissue donors,” said Sue Dunn, president and CEO of Donor Alliance. “Right now there are more than 2,200 people in Colorado waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant. There is no greater kindness than giving the gift of life; just one donor can save or enhance more than 100 lives through organ, eye and tissue donation. We are excited to promote this cause with a number of local families touched by donation and transplantation in the Parade of Lights, a favorite holiday activity in Colorado.”
The Gift of Life balloon will be escorted by Colorado and Wyoming residents including families whose loved ones made the decision to donate, living donors and recipients who benefitted from the lifesaving gift of donation. The group will be full of roughly 20 moving stories of hope, including:
- Saul and Judith Cordero, donor parents from Denver, CO: Saul and Judith Cordero passionately fight for the cause of organ, eye and tissue donation in memory of their daughter, Eva. When Eva passed away she donated seven organs to six people in need. Judith says the opportunity to help build awareness for donation “has helped us to look at our daughter not as someone who we have lost, because she will always be with us, but as someone who carried out a very special mission that she came to this earth to do. Eva lives on in those she loved and saved.”
- Bill Fleming, a heart recipient from Denver, CO: Bill says he is alive today for one reason: a young man made the decision to save lives when he registered as an organ, eye and tissue donor after his 21st birthday. Bill received the lifesaving gift of a heart transplant in 2010 from that donor. Bill has been a registered donor himself for many decades because he believes in the hope of saving and healing others with his gifts of life.
- Robin Mitchell, a donor mom from Centennial, CO: Robin lost her son Joe in 2008. However, she found hope and pride in the fact that Joe’s death gave life and healing to many in need. In fact, Joe’s decision at 15-years-old to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor meant that after his passing five men were saved with organ transplants and two men received restored sight with cornea transplants. Robin calls Joe a hero for his choice, and encourages others to talk to their families about registering as donors. “Who knows,” she said. “You could be someone’s hero.”Robin used to take Joe to watch the Parade of Lights, so looks forward to celebrating his memory at the holiday event.
Also helping to escort the Gift of Life balloon will be Donor Alliance staff and volunteers, who facilitate the miracle of donation and transplantation, as well as Guy VROOM, the character from the Save Time Renew Online campaign, a joint project from Donor Alliance, Colorado Interactive and the Colorado Department of Revenue. The comical, mullet-wearing “dude” stuck in the ‘80s, encourages people to renew licenses online and skip the lines at the driver’s license office, thereby remaining youthful and fun by keeping their old photos. He also encourages Coloradans to register as organ, eye and tissue donors when renewing their licenses.
The Parade of Lights crowd and viewers at home will be able to easily tell how each person escorting the Gift of Life float has been touched by donation. Donor families will wear blue Santa hats, transplant recipients will wear red Santa hats, living donors will wear purple Santa hats and supporters will wear elf hats.
The 9NEWS Parade of Lights is a downtown Denver tradition that brings joy to people of all ages in the form of illumination. The parade, presented by American Furniture Warehouse and GO Automotive Group, steps off from the Denver City & County Building at 14th & Bannock Street, and the route continues for two miles through the streets of Downtown Denver. The parade will take place on Friday, November 30 from 8-9 PM, and Saturday, December 1 from 6-7PM. For more information about the 9News Parade of lights visit DenverParadeOfLights.com.
Join the 67 percent of Coloradans who have registered to be organ, eye and tissue donors. For more information about organ and tissue donation, please visit DonorAlliance.org. To register to be an organ and tissue donor, please visit DonateLifeColorado.org or call 303-329-4747 for more information.