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Guest Blogger Wendy Rodgers Talks about Her Rose Parade Experience

Posted Jan 08 2010 7:39am
I opened 2010 with an amazing experience as a Donate Life Float Rider. There were several days of events that led up to our ride through Pasadena, and each one touched my heart. We arrived to celebrate at an opening orientation and dinner which also allowed each of us to share our story. I immediately realized that I was among people who truly knew the value of life and how we must often overcome some insurmountable obstacles to keep going. A highlight of this event was meeting Gary Foxen, a lung recipient, who simply wrote a letter about bringing awareness to organ, eye, & tissue donation. This was the catalyst for our float. I also had the opportunity to meet Sunny Luna, another lupus survivor, who was left in need of a kidney because of the disease.

The next day, I had the honor to help decorate the float and help prepare for the float's 1st judging. There is such meticulous work that goes into the float's design & creation. I couldn't believe how such a glorious piece of art is produced from the simplest, most natural materials. That night we enjoyed a wonderful reception and gala and performance by All-4-One.

The day before the parade was the "dress rehearsal" for the parade and the final float judging. This was a magnificent moment because we finally saw the float in its final form. We were seated in our assigned places, silence fell, and the music was cued. We smiled and waved while the judges circled, and it was at this moment that we shed tears of joy. As tears ran down my face, I felt nothing but gratitude for being alive, and I was inspired to continue my journey.

It was a ride unlike one I had ever experienced because I saw that people saw the importance of the gift of life. Despite having my life torn apart by lupus and waiting nine years for a kidney, I was honored to be an example that we can still rise and go on with life.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year.

Wendy Rodgers is featured in the Ad Council's national lupus awareness campaign.
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