Rose-bowl-logo-1228The Iowa Donor Network headquartered in North Liberty will have three people represented this year on the Donate Life Rose Bowl Parade float.

Spokesman Tony Hakes says the Rose Parade that proceeds the football game is one of their big events.

“We’ve just decided that it is a great opportunity to showcase what the Iowa Donor Network is doing, and it gets a lot of coverage both nationally, internationally and at the state/local level,” Hakes says. “It brings awareness of the need for people to register as organ and tissue donors. And in general, it’s just a great time and experience for everyone involved.”

A teen whose organs were donated after his death is one of the people being featured. “Our florograph — which is a picture made from entirely organic materials that actually is attached to the float — is in honor of Jesse Jorgenson. He was an organ, eye and tissue donor at the just age of 18,” Hakes says. His parents donated his organs following an accident.

An Iowa woman will honor her father in the parade. Julie Durr is the daughter of Russ Gerdin, the founder of Heartland Trucking in North Liberty who was a liver transplant recipient. Gerdin lived five years after getting his liver, and his daughter will ride on the float holding her dad’s picture.

Suzanne Conrad is the third person representing the Iowa Donor Network. “Suzanne is actually a living donor, she donated a kidney to what she would describe as a friend, but he was also a board member and the father of one of our employees,” Hakes says. Conrad donated the kidney 10 years ago. Hakes says they work with some 30 or 40 other organizations from across the country to decorate the Donate Life float.

“So it’s a good collaboration, which is a nice metaphor for donation itself,” Hakes says. “Because in order for someone to be a donor there’s collaboration between the family, the Iowa Donor Network, the hospital, through the medical examiners, through funeral homes. And through all of us getting together to honor those who have been donors, the recipients and living donors.”

He says their message of donation captures a lot of attention through the float. Hakes says they expect close to one billion people to tune in worldwide to watch the parade and around one million attend the parade. Hakes says the first step is letting everyone know you want to donate your organs. Hakes says check your driver’s license and if you don’t have a “Y” next to donor your name you can go to and register on-line. “It’s just very important that your family knows and understands your wishes, and you know and understand theirs,” Hakes says.

The Rose Parade is in the morning on January 1st in Pasadena, California, prior to the Rose Bowl game. The float will feature a total of 52 men and 44 women from across the country who have been touched by the gift of organ donation and transplantation.