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
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.”
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
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 DonateLife.net 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.