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Rose Parade float to honor life of local organ donor

Man killed in LB shooting to be among 44 recognized for gifts of life

Family+of+Joseluis+Cruz+sign+dedications+on+roses+that+will+be+included+on+the+2019+Donate+Life+Float%3F+in+the+Rose+Parade+in+Pasadena+on+New+Year%E2%80%99s+Day.+Cruz+was+shot+and+killed+in+2012%2C+and+his+family+members+made+the+decision+to+donate+his+organs.+Now%2C+four+people+live+on+because+of+that+donation.+
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Rose Parade float to honor life of local organ donor

Family of Joseluis Cruz sign dedications on roses that will be included on the 2019 Donate Life Float? in the Rose Parade in Pasadena on New Year’s Day. Cruz was shot and killed in 2012, and his family members made the decision to donate his organs. Now, four people live on because of that donation.

Family of Joseluis Cruz sign dedications on roses that will be included on the 2019 Donate Life Float? in the Rose Parade in Pasadena on New Year’s Day. Cruz was shot and killed in 2012, and his family members made the decision to donate his organs. Now, four people live on because of that donation.

Photo by Cory Bilicko | Signal Tribune

Family of Joseluis Cruz sign dedications on roses that will be included on the 2019 Donate Life Float? in the Rose Parade in Pasadena on New Year’s Day. Cruz was shot and killed in 2012, and his family members made the decision to donate his organs. Now, four people live on because of that donation.

Photo by Cory Bilicko | Signal Tribune

Photo by Cory Bilicko | Signal Tribune

Family of Joseluis Cruz sign dedications on roses that will be included on the 2019 Donate Life Float? in the Rose Parade in Pasadena on New Year’s Day. Cruz was shot and killed in 2012, and his family members made the decision to donate his organs. Now, four people live on because of that donation.

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When the 130th Rose Parade makes its five-mile journey down the streets of Pasadena on the first day of 2019, one float will be especially meaningful for the family of Joseluis Cruz, Jr.– the Donate Life float. It will bear the likeness of Cruz, who, in 2012, at 23 years old, was shot and killed while making a delivery for his employer.

What makes Cruz particularly special six years later is the fact that, upon receiving the news that he was “brain-dead” because of his injuries, his family made the decision to donate his organs, and now four other individuals continue on with their own lives because they each have one of five of those organs.

On Tuesday, Nov. 13, Cruz’s doctors, nurses and family members put the finishing touches on a large-scale image of Joseluis made of flowers– a “floragraph”– during a ceremony at Long Beach Medical Center. The work of art will be among others like it on the 2019 Donate Life Rose Parade Float, honoring those who literally gave of themselves so that other patients would have a chance at life.

“The power of the gift that Joseluis– and, through him, all of you– have given is beyond words, turning tragic loss into the gift of not just one life saved, but four,” said Dr. James Leo, MemorialCare chief medical officer and chair of its Organ-Donor Council, to Cruz’s family during the ceremony. “In the midst of experiencing the loss of someone you love deeply, may you find comfort in knowing that this gift has forever transformed the lives– not just of those who receive the gift– but of those that love them, as well.”

Cruz will be among 44 individuals from around the country honored on the float as organ donors, according to Alexia Delima, donation-development director for OneLegacy, a nonprofit that facilitates organ, eye and tissue donation. The float’s theme will be “The Rhythm of Heart,” to celebrate the power of kindness and individuals who selflessly serve their communities.

“Joseluis has done that and so much more,” Delima said. “The gift of time is truly the greatest gift that we can ever provide somebody.”

Delima added that, during the parade, the float will be accompanied by living donors and organ recipients who will walk alongside it. The float will also be adorned with thousands of roses, each of which will carry a handwritten dedication.

Photo by Cory Bilicko | Signal Tribune
A sister (left) of Joseluis Cruz hugs a recipient of one of her brother’s organs during a ceremony at Long Beach Medical Center Tuesday. Cruz was shot and killed in 2012 while making a delivery for his employer.

On Tuesday, Cruz’s family and hospital staff signed 10 of the roses that will be used.

His parents, sisters and brother-in-law also spoke about how difficult it was to return to the hospital where, in late November of 2012, they had spent five days awaiting news from doctors and hoping for the best. They also talked about how hard it had been to make the decision to donate Cruz’s organs but that they are glad they did. The process of working with MemorialCare and OneLegacy, as well as meeting one of the recipients of Cruz’s organs, was therapeutic, they said.

“On behalf of the Cruz Family, we would like to thank Long Beach Memorial, as well as OneLegacy, for honoring my brother today,” said Anna Cruz. “This means so much to us. Each and every event [to which OneLegacy invited the family] has been helpful to my family and me in coping with our brother’s passing. It has taught us to learn and to accept and live with a pain that will forever remain.”

As of this week, about 114,000 people are on the waiting list for life-saving organ transplants, and, on average, 20 people die each day waiting for a transplant, according to MemorialCare staff.

More information about registering as a donor is available at onelegacy.org.
More information about the 2019 Donate Life Rose Parade Float is available at donatelifefloat.org.

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Rose Parade float to honor life of local organ donor