The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

October 25, 2013

Letter from hospital CEO headed to Rose Parade

By Lora Scripps

— A small part of Limestone County will be included in the 125th Rose Parade New Years Day in Pasadena, Calif.

On Thursday, Athens-Limestone Hospital CEO Kelli Powers wrote a personal, handwritten message that will be placed on the Donate Life Rose Parade float themed “Light Up the World.”

The message, which was attached to a vial and will hold a single rose, will honor the patients and families who, with the support of hospital staff, have saved and healed lives through the gift of organ, eye and tissue donation. When the float is complete, it will be filled with thousands of roses bearing personal messages. The American Hospital Association, the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations and the Eye Bank Association of America have joined together offering hospital CEO’s nationwide the opportunity to take part in the parade.

Powers, a future organ donor, said being a part of the Rose Parade and the Donate Life float means a lot. “I’ve seen how organ donation changes people’s lives,” Powers said. “To know that my name and Athens-Limestone Hospital is on a rose in the parade is an unbelievable feeling.”

Brie Hollander, hospital and community liaison for the Alabama Organ Center, believes the parade is an ideal venue to showcase how Alabama hospitals, and other hospitals across the country, make possible the life saving and healing benefits of organ, eye and tissue donation.

“It’s a neat and fun way to bring awareness, and a good way to let people know of the importance of organ donation,” Hollander said, adding Alabama Organ Center is trying to get all Alabama hospitals involved.

“The support families receive from the hospital is vital to a successful donation program,” Chris Meeks, executive director of Alabama Organ Center, said. “The hospital caregiver’s dedication and commitment to patients and families makes the gift of life possible by enabling a family to feel comfortable with the decision to donate.”

For 10 years, dozens of organizations nationwide, including Alabama Organ Center, have collaborated to enter a Donate Life float in the Rose Parade. The idea originated with a lung recipient who envisioned a way to thank organ, eye and tissue donors for their gifts of life. The Donate Life float has since grown into a national tradition featuring dozen of participants each year.

The 2014 float entry features five large lanterns illuminating 30 riders — all organ and tissue transplant recipients — and 12 living organ donors walking alongside to demonstrate their ongoing vitality. The float is also adorned with 72 memorial floragraph portraits of deceased donors whose legacies of life shine on. The riders are seated throughout a dedication garden filled with thousands of roses bearing personal messages of love, hope and remembrance.

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