Coloradans Celebrate Organ, Eye and Tissue Donation in National and Local Events This Holiday Season

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Transplant recipients, families of donors raise awareness for donation in the Rose Parade, 9News Parade of Lights

This holiday season, Coloradans touched by organ, eye and tissue donation will be raising awareness for the cause and trying to inspire others to register at two holiday events. Kate Geer—the wife of a Colorado Sheriff Deputy that became a donor after his death in the line of duty earlier this year—will be sharing her story and representing Colorado aboard the Donate Life Float in the nationally televised Rose Parade. Additionally, numerous Coloradans that have either had a family member become a donor, or who have received a transplant themselves, will be escorting a “Gift of Life” balloon in Denver’s 9News Parade of Lights.

“We cannot put into words how thankful we are to work with the incredible advocates that share their stories in order to help us educate on the importance of donation and transplantation,” said Sue Dunn, president and CEO of Donor Alliance, the federally designated not-for-profit organization that facilitates organ and tissue donation in Colorado and will sponsor Kate’s participation in the Rose Parade and the Donate Life Colorado balloon in Denver’s Parade of Lights. “We are hopeful that the powerful impact donation and transplantation has had on our advocates’ lives will inspire Coloradans and people around the country to give the gift of life by joining their state donor registries.”

“Teammates in Life” Donate Life Float at the 128th Rose Parade

Kate will travel from Grand Junction, Colo. to ride on the fourteenth annual Donate Life Rose Parade Float on Monday January 2 in honor of her husband Derek Geer, a Mesa County Sherriff’s Deputy who was killed in the line of duty in early 2016. Derek saved four lives through organ donation after his death. The float has become the world’s most visible campaign to inspire donation. Kate will be joined on the float by 23 other individuals from around the country whose lives were impacted by donation and transplantation.

Since her husband’s passing, Kate has been an active advocate for donation. Leading up to her appearance in the Rose Parade, Kate will be participating in a Donate Life flag raising and pinning ceremony on December 6 at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Grand Junction, Colo. In addition to a Donate Life flag being raised at the hospital in honor of Derek, as a symbol of thanks, Kate will be pinning Donate Life pins onto members of the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office that worked alongside her husband.

The 128th Rose Parade will start at 8 a.m. PST on January 2, 2017 and be broadcast live in the U.S. by broadcast partners ABC, NBC, HGTV, Hallmark Channel, Univision and more. Check local broadcast listings for more information. For more information about the 2017 Teammates in Life Donate Life Rose Parade Float, visit http://www.donatelifefloat.org.

Donate Life Colorado “Gift of Life” Balloon at the 42nd Denver Parade of Lights

Before the Rose Parade, donation and transplantation will also be celebrated locally in Denver in the 9News Parade of Lights. On December 2 and 3, this annual holiday tradition will feature the Donate Life Colorado “Gift of Life” balloon, which is a jumbo balloon in the shape of a gift box, honoring those who have donated and representing the hope made possible by donation. Families of donors and transplant recipients from throughout Colorado will lead the float.
Among those marching in this year’s parade are the following Coloradans, with inspiring stories of being touched by donation and transplantation:

  •     Eamon Lujan, heart recipient, Littleton, CO: Born with an underdeveloped heart, Eamon was immediately placed on the transplant list at birth. After a three-month wait, Eamon received a life-saving transplant. At 10 years old, Eamon now makes frequent visits to other kids waiting on heart transplants in hopes of encouraging and inspiring them.
  •     Jaclyn Prybella, partner of a donor, Greeley, CO: Jaclyn’s fiancé, Tyler, passed away after suffering a severe head injury in an accident at work. By becoming a donor, Tyler was able to save multiple lives; his family feels reassured knowing that he lives on through his recipients.
  •     Doug French, liver recipient, Denver, CO: After living with Hepatitis C for decades, Doug’s illness eventually left him in need of a liver transplant. Doug received a live-saving transplant in 2015, and considers it to be his greatest gift.
  •     Jaime Tellez, cornea recipient, Aurora, CO: After having surgeries on both of his eyes to treat aggressive cataracts, Jaime suffered cornea damage on his right eye that left him in need of a cornea transplant. Jaime’s successful partial cornea transplant took him from near blindness to being able to return to all of the activities he was restricted from for two years.
  •     Kelsi Mathews, tissue recipient, Denver, CO: Kelsi was 23 when she was diagnosed with adult idiopathic scoliosis and told she’d eventually lose the ability to walk. Thanks to a transplant of cancellous bone grafts from a tissue donor, Kelsi is now able to lead a normal and fulfilling life.
  •     Kyli Bailey, sister of a transplant recipient, Aurora, CO: Kyli has been touched by donation multiple times throughout her life; her grandmother received a kidney transplant and her sister received both bone marrow and double lung transplants. Kyli proudly supports donation because she has seen firsthand how it changes lives.

This year marks the 42nd Annual 9News Parade of Lights. The two-mile parade in Downtown Denver is free to attend and features marching bands, ornate floats and a special appearance by Santa. For more information about the 9News Parade of Lights, including the parade route, visit: http://denverparadeoflights.com/.

Coloradans can register their decision to be donors by saying ‘yes’ each time they obtain or renew a driver license or state ID, or at http://www.DonateLifeColorado.org anytime.

About Donor Alliance
Donor Alliance is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving lives through organ and tissue donation and transplantation. As the organ and tissue procurement agency for Colorado and most of Wyoming, Donor Alliance serves more than 5.8 million residents and more than 100 hospitals.

Donor Alliance adheres to the highest medical and ethical standards: respectfully working with the families of organ and tissue donors, maintaining partnerships with hospitals and educating residents on the life-saving benefits of donation and inspiring them to sign up on the state’s donor registry. Colorado and Wyoming boast some of the highest rates of donor registration in the country, which directly translates to more lives saved and healed through organ and tissue transplantation. Donor Alliance is one of 58 federally designated organizations of its kind in the United States. For more information visit DonorAlliance.org or the Donate Life Colorado or Donate Life Wyoming Facebook pages.

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Courtney Brunkow
The Fletcher Group
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