The Gift of Breath Allows Fresno Woman to Ride on the Donate Life Rose Parade® Float

 In News

(Fresno, CA) October 15, 2018 – Carolyn Dickson, a double-lung transplant recipient from Fresno, will ride atop the Donate Life float in the 130th Rose Parade® in representation of the thousands of people impacted by organ, eye, and tissue donation across Central and Northern California and Northern Nevada. The announcement was made today by Donor Network West, the organ and tissue recovery organization for the aforementioned donation service area.

Carolyn lives her life in the spirit of service. She has served in the United States Air Force and is on the board of several community and faith-based organizations. She also champions environmental causes and works in community relations for a major recycling company.

Carolyn was diagnosed with sarcoidosis in the 1970’s, a disease that affected her lungs. For the eight years prior to the transplant in 2016 that saved her life, she depended on portable oxygen tanks or a concentrator to do any kind of activity.  The eighteen months she spent on the transplant waitlist inspired her to become a Donate Life Ambassador with Donor Network West; she has taken the opportunity to share her story in her surrounding community.

The donation advocate is alive today because of the generous decision of the Espinoza-Castro family to donate the organs of the family’s 37-year-old mother, Maria Castro Martinez. Carolyn and her husband, Larry, had the amazing opportunity to meet their donor family in 2017 and have since built a special bond with them. They have traveled and spent many holidays together, including Mother’s and Father’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

“When Maria’s kids place their heads against my chest, they feel close to their mother and remember her. As I ride on the float, it will be to honor Maria and the other donor families who help transform lives,” says Carolyn.

The Rose Parade, which will take place in Pasadena, CA on January 1, 2019, will be watched by an estimated 700,000 spectators and seen by over 63 million television viewers worldwide. This parade theme, The Melody of Life, celebrates music, the universal language.

The 2019 Donate Life float’s theme, Rhythm of the Heart, depicts an exciting design that invites parade audiences to experience the music of Africa, in a vibrant, colorful float that features musical instruments and cultural artifacts that represent different African countries and cultures.

Overlooking the floragraphs is a dramatic double Senufo mask from the Ivory Coast that gives thanks to ancestors and remembers those who have gone before. Twenty-six living donors or transplant recipients ride or walk beside the float, gathering around the drums, a giant marimba from Ghana, and an exotic kora from Burkina Faso. The kora and marimba play important parts in the passing down of stories of previous generations in song. Rising over the rear of the float are spectacular chiwara headdresses from Mali; these stylized antelope headdresses are featured in dances that teach youth the value of community, in the same way the donation and transplantation community come together to share the importance of donation.

“The passion that Carolyn and Larry exude as advocates for organ, eye, and tissue donation locally, have inspired thousands and opened their hearts to the fact that donation does save and heal lives. This message will now be amplified; it’s going national and global,” says Jason Bailey, Fresno Regional Director for Donor Network West. “We acknowledge her donor, Maria, and her generous family as without them none of this would be possible.”

Nearly 10,000 people are waiting for an organ transplant in Central and Northern California as well as Northern Nevada. One organ donor can save the lives of up to eight people and a tissue donor can heal more than 75 others. Anyone can register as a donor at DonorNetworkWest.org or at the DMV.

About Donor Network West
Donor Network West saves and heals lives by facilitating organ and tissue recovery for transplantation. The organization was established in 1987, and is an official Donate Life organization accredited by the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO) and the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB). Federally designated to serve 40 counties in Northern California and Nevada, Donor Network West partners with the Department of Motor Vehicles and the state-authorized donor registries. For information, visit DonorNetworkWest.org and follow us on social media: @mydnwest

About the Pasadena Tournament of Roses®
The Tournament of Roses is a volunteer organization that hosts America’s New Year Celebration® with the Rose Parade® presented by Honda, the Rose Bowl Game® presented by Northwestern Mutual and a variety of accompanying events. 935 volunteer members of the association will drive the success of 130th Rose Parade themed “The Melody of Life,” on Tuesday, January 1, 2019, followed by the 105th Rose Bowl Game. For more information, visit www.tournamentofroses.com. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.