Tzu Chi Pays Tribute to Organ Donors by Decorating a Float for the Rose Parade

National Headquarters  |  December 31, 2022
Tzu Chi volunteers decorating the float
Decorating the float was hard work for all involved. Photo/ Chunlan Xu

Written by Sabrina Ho, Suching Wang
Translated by H.B. Qin
Edited by Patrick McShane

One Legacy is an organ, eye, and tissue donation nonprofit in Southern California. It is a bridge to life, connecting donors with patients in need. Every year, they sponsor a float in the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California. They kindly invite the Tzu Chi USA Headquarters to join them in building and decorating their annual float and help deliver a global message about donating organs, eyes, and tissue, inspiring the community to save and heal lives through organ donation.

The Gift That Gives Life

2023 marks the 20th anniversary of One Legacy’s participation in the Rose Parade. This year’s theme for their float was a traditional Chinese dragon. This mythical creature and symbol of good fortune were chosen to promote the organization’s motto, “Donate Life,” and the theme of “Lifting Each Other Up” to pay tribute to organ donors and their families worldwide.

Each year, Richard Casper and his wife, the parents of an organ donor, help decorate the float. They are proud of their son’s organ donation: “He donated tissue, ligaments, and corneas, which helped 198 people. Again, Josh is a great kid, we stand with One Legacy through his donation; it’s a great asset to my family. It lifts us up, just like the ‘Lifting Each Other Up’ that this float lock and key convey, it inspires others and inspires us, giving us ideas, purpose, and joy, we really enjoy working with everyone, with the young kids, showing them how to decorate the float and also sharing why we are here; we give to each other and we gain from each other.”

The float was covered in flowers, with each flower carrying a message of life. Adult Tzu Chi volunteers and Tzu Chi youth volunteers helped decorate this year’s float, preparing flowers or carefully gluing them on. Everyone’s efforts paid tribute and showed sincere respect for those who have given the gift of life, as well as wished each donation recipient a healthy life, and expressed gratitude to the organ transplant specialists and medical teams who make donation possible.

Gratitude for the Gift of Life

Tzu Chi volunteers decorating the parade float
The volunteers needed a good sense of balance to help decorate the float. Photo/ Chunlan Xu
Tzu Chi youth volunteers decorating the float together
Tzu Chi youth volunteers at work. Photo/ Chunlan Xu

Organ recipient Chris Rodriguez was given a new life through One Legacy’s donation program. He said, “I was diagnosed with certain cardiomyopathy at the time, and I was gifted with the gift of life by a young girl and her family. I’m grateful for the family’s challenges and sacrifices to save my life.”

Now, I'm here to tell you with certainty that, that pink dot (A pink dot for donation will be marked on a driver's license in the United States for volunteering to be an organ, eye, and tissue donor) that indicating donor and recipient, and that helping a life through donation is very, very important.

Cindy Rodriguez, a donation recipient’s mother, shared a letter from the donor’s family: “This is a very touching letter from the donor’s family, and I quote, ‘They are so grateful to be able to do this for my son and hope that my son will be able to take care of his heart and live a full life.’ My son has contacted the family and written a reply. I hope One Legacy will be able to pass this letter on to the donor’s family before Christmas, which I hope will be a great blessing to them.”

Saving More Lives

Tzu Chi volunteers holding organ donor's photo
The stories of the donors’ families and the recipients and their families touched the volunteers who participated in the event. Photo/ Chunlan Xu
Tzu Chi volunteers working together for the float
Working together, the volunteers were able to catch up with old friends and meet new volunteers. Photo/ Chunlan Xu

Youth volunteer Katie Tan was deeply moved by the stories of donor families as well as recipients and their families, “I think I want to become a donor too so that more people in the world will be able to live.” You can register at to become an organ, eye, or tissue donor.

For more than 20 years, the Tzu Chi USA Headquarters has been a community partner of One Legacy. Together we have educated the Chinese community about organ donation and promoted the idea of saving lives by donating organs, eyes, and tissues. In addition, Tzu Chi has assisted and supported donor families with hospital and funeral arrangements.

Throughout the weeks-long float decoration process, the Tzu Chi volunteers would arrive at the site early to learn about work safety and to break down that day’s tasks. After working hard for many hours, they left work together, joyful at the thought of the good the float might achieve, and happy to have been part of an amazing effort to help those in need of a transplant.

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