The Ride of His Life
AATB sponsors tissue recipient, P.J. Williams, as a rider on the Donate Life Rose Parade® float
On January 1, 2018, the Donate Life Rose Parade® float coasted down Colorado Boulevard as part of the 129th Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. The theme of this year's Rose Parade was Making a Difference, and no other float embodied that theme better than the Donate Life float, which won the 2018 Theme Award for the most outstanding presentation of the Rose Parade theme.
Riding on the float, which was titled The Gift of Time, were 17 organ and tissue recipients. Among them was the AATB-sponsored float rider, Peter (P.J.) Williams, a 17-year old tissue recipient from Columbus, Ohio. P.J. was diagnosed with osteosarcoma at age 12, and underwent several surgeries and chemotherapy to remove the tumor in his leg, however, at the end of his treatments, doctors felt that they would still need to amputate. Fortunately, P.J. was able to receive a donated tibia, which allowed him to keep his leg.
"If I was able to say anything to my donor family it would be, 'Thank you,' because they did something that means so much to me...They are really and honestly heroes in my opinion because they sacrificed just for me..."
Since his surgery, P.J. has been able to return to a normal teenage life thanks to his donor. He has also registered to be an organ, eye and tissue donor on his driver's license, which he would encourage everyone to do. "I would say to anyone considering being a donor, just go for it, because you can save someone's leg, eyesight, arm, life - you can do so much just by saying 'yes.'"
Frank Wilton, AATB President & CEO and Chairman of the Donate Life America Board of Directors said, "To see the immense impact that tissue donation has had on the life of someone so young is so powerful. Thanks to his donor's gift, P.J. was able to keep his leg and continue to grow and thrive like a normal teenager. There are no words to describe how meaningful that gift was to P.J. and others like him."
Wilton attended both the parade and several of the Donate Life events leading up to it, and summed up the experience as follows, "The Rose Parade is an incredibly moving and meaningful event where donor families, recipients and staff can come together in celebration of the life-changing power of organ, eye and tissue donation. There's really nothing else like it. It's an amazing reminder of the importance of the work that the donation community does on a daily basis. I definitely returned from that experience with a renewed sense of drive and passion for my work, both at AATB and DLA."
P.J. was nominated to participate in the Rose Parade by Lifebanc, an AATB-accredited facility based in Cleveland, Ohio. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for P.J. who said, "When I got the news [that I was selected] to be on the Donate Life parade float, I was really excited because I've never done anything like this before." You can hear P.J. speak more about his Rose Parade experience at the AATB Annual Meeting in Dallas this fall.
If your organization knows of a tissue recipient that you think should be honored in the 2019 Rose Parade, please nominate them to be a float rider. AATB will sponsor one nominated individual to travel to Pasadena and ride on the Donate Life Float in 2019. This year's nominations will open on May 7, 2018. If you have questions about the AATB Rose Parade float rider or the nomination process, please contact Deanna Puglia at firstname.lastname@example.org.