Three Rose Parade float sponsors have traditionally invited either patients, survivors or their families to be guests of honor as float riders.
Donate Life’s float riders are either organ transplant recipients or
families of organ donors; the float also honors loved ones lost through
floragraphs, a wall of names and a memorial garden of roses. (The
upcoming December issue of Rose Magazine will profile some of these
City of Hope, which co-sponsors a float with the city of Duarte, honors some of its patients.
Kaiser Permanente chooses children and teens who have shown exceptional spirit in the face of adversity. Riding on the Kaiser float will be:
- Andrea Beltran, 16, Hacienda Heights: She had surgery at 5 years old to remove a three-inch cancerous tumor (ovarian teratoma). Today, she is a cross country runner on her high school’s league champion team and an honor student and participates in various charities.
- Jimmy Daniel, 16, South Los Angeles: As an infant, he was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia. He hopes to become a pharmacist and has already completed classes at a junior college. He is active in student government and school plays, raises money for medical charities and participates on a junior league bowling team.
- D’rell Gist, 11, San Diego: He started taking six to eight insulin shots a day after he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes two years ago. He continues to enjoy hiking, sailing, camping and soccer nas has trained himself to be a magician. He participates in the annual “Walk to Cure Diabetes” fundraiser.
- Morgan Heflin, 18, Los Angeles: She underwent grueling chemotherapy last year after she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease, a cancer of the lymphatic system. While she was being treated, she bonded with the other young patients at the cancer clinic and urged them to keep fighting. She plans to study to become a pediatric oncologic nurse, inspired in large part by the the care she received when was ill.
- Haley Ishimatsu, 17, Seal Beach: She competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics diving competition, one of the few (perhaps only) U.S. Olympians with asthma. She and her partner placed fifth in the women’s synchronized 10-meter platform event. She is a straight A student and wants to come a physician.
- Kirstie Quezada, 14, Corona: She was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at 3 years old. She is now in remission and volunteers at American Cancer Society events to help raise funds to fight the disease. Her hero is her father, a police lieutenant, and someday she wants to be a police officer, too, so she can protect others.
- Monica Trent, 15, Simi Valley: 2009 marks the fifth year that she has been cancer-free. Throughout 26 months of chemotherapy, she maintained a 4.0 average. Now she excels at more activities, including cross country track at school. She and her family have also raised more than $80,000 for the local chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
- Daniel Udave, 14, Los Angeles: Diagnosed with leukemia in 2007, he continues chemotherapy even though the cancer is no longer detectable. One of his care providers say he takes care of the other children having treatment at the cancer center. He plays on his high school’s varsity water polo team and has been a junior lifeguard for three summers.