Family Honors Daughter in Rose Bowl Parade

Jeff and Schuyler RathIf you've never watched the Rose Bowl Parade, you're missing one of the highlights of the Donate Life America collaborative - the Donate Life parade float.


Often honored with parade awards, the beautiful floats are themed to promote the gift of life, include recipients from across the country and feature donor "‘floragraphs" (photos of donors) made of bits of flowers and seeds.


This year, the UW Health Organ Procurement Organization was proud to sponsor the family of donor Hailey Rath. Hailey passed away in 2005 at the age of 13, following a car accident. Her organ and tissue donations saved more than 70 people and her heart beats in a young lady in Michigan.


The Raths, Jeff and Lisa, and son Schuyler are from Beloit. They traveled to Pasadena on December 9 to 11 to spend a day creating a floragraph of Hailey. They used bits of oats, wheat, cinnamon, mustard and cloves to match Hailey's skin and hair tones, and used ground-up purple flowers for her shirt. The Raths spent about eight hours working on Hailey's floragraph.


"We used dried strawberries to make Hailey's cheeks rosy," said Lisa. "I thought that was pretty cool, since strawberries were a favorite of hers! Schuyler did quite a bit of the work on the floragraph mixing elements to get things just right."


Lisa and Schuyler RathThe 2012 parade float is Donate Life American's eighth annual entry. Titled "One More Day," the float features floral clocks and clock towers from around the world. Riding on the float will be 28 representatives of deceased organ, eye and tissue donors, as well as living donors and transplant recipients.


Six enormous floral timepieces will be adorned with 72 memorial floragraphs of deceased donors - including Hailey's floragraph - whose gifts gave life and time to so many. The float also includes a rose dedication garden to honor more than 3,000 people worldwide, with each rose bearing a vial with a personal message honoring a loved one.


The song "100 Years" by Five for Fighting will play on the float. Anchoring the float is a 33-foot clock tower with an animated sun/moon dial reminding us to make each passing day count.


"It was such an honor to be there," said Lisa. "There were so many volunteers and quite a few donor families too. Everyone was wonderful."


The Rath's will return to Pasadena to watch Hailey's floragraph glide past them during the parade on January 2.