December 28, 2022

Behind the Scenes: The Most Visible Donate Life Campaign

Written by: Samantha Savalli

Nevada Donor Network has the honor of participating in the Donate Life Rose Parade® float each year by not only recognizing two floragraph honorees, but also helping to bring the design to fruition by volunteering to decorate the float. For the past 20 years, the Donate Life Rose Parade® float has inspired people around the world to save and heal lives through organ, eye and tissue donation. Often nicknamed the ‘float of tears’ by announcers and judges, there is a unique significance to each year’s float as it relates to the overall parade theme.

2023 Donate Life Rose Parade Float Rendering
The 2023 Rose Parade® theme ‘Turning the Corner,’ celebrates the opportunity of rising above and embracing a fresh start which is filled with hope and joy. The Donate Life Rose Parade ® float designer was inspired by this theme to showcase the gift of life from all perspectives (donor family, living donor and recipient). They decided that a spectacular Chinese street dragon would act as the centerpiece of the float. In Chinese culture, dragons are a symbol of great power, good luck and strength. They attract abundance and prosperity. A colorful dragon winds through the float of flowering trees, lanterns and fans which will feature 44 memorial floragraphs (portraits made of natural materials). These images will honor those who have given the gift of life and healing to others. The dragon will then be supported on poles which will be held by living donors and surrounded by those who have received the ultimate gift (an organ, eye or tissue transplant). This all comes together to symbolize the lives that have been transformed because of this selfless act of kindness. It also drives the message that they have turned the corner to a more prosperous future thanks to those who have left behind a legacy through organ, eye and tissue donation. A traditional Paifang Bridge will be featured on the back of the float with a special message in Mandarin that highlights the power of donation. 

Micah May Floragraph 2
We are honored to recognize two Nevadans through memorial floragraphs that will be among 42 other heroes from around the country. The first floragraph is in partnership with Palm Mortuaries (a Dignity Memorial Provider) and recognizes fallen Trooper Micah May. His family shared, “Micah has always been the adventurous type. He looked danger in the eye and fought for what he loved. As a Nevada State Police Highway Patrol (NSP) Trooper, Micah found great joy in taking impaired drivers off the road and if need be, he would be the one running on the freeway at night to stop a dangerous person. When confronted with death and tragedy, he would find the silver lining, noting that at the very least, organs could be donated, and other lives saved. Micah has won several awards throughout his career in a variety of areas. He excelled academically and was at the top of his class in the academy. He has been recognized by NSP for taking impaired drivers off the road, successfully deploying stop sticks and was awarded two Medals of Valor. Aside from being a great trooper, Micah had endless compassion. Family meant everything to him. He was always willing to lend an ear to the latest high school drama and has provided a calm comforting presence while cutting open a cousin’s foot to remove a piece of glass. When family members were asked what comes to mind when they hear his name, they found themselves reflecting on his humor, relaxed nature and the care he had for those closest to him. Micah, always quick with a playful jab or innuendo, was also first in line to make sure there were always fresh flowers in the vase. A man of many talents, he was eager to get into the kitchen and personally prepare meals for holidays. When it comes to being a father, Micah was one of the best. He absolutely adored both of his kids. Mundane activities like grocery shopping were filled with laughter as he played with the kids while continuing to be engaged in the actual process of shopping. He was so much more than goofing around. Thanks to Micah, Raylan knew the basics of an automotive oil change before he’d even turned four. Micah’s free time went into teaching Raylan how to build, fix and maintain the house and cars. His joy in learning about Melody’s imminent arrival was unmatched. His princess had him wrapped around her finger before she was even born. The love he had for them is felt by both Raylan and Melody every single day and will always be with them. Micah’s impact will forever live on through those who were able to receive his organs, the friends and family left behind and his mantra to always, “Drive fast and take chances.” 

Jonathan Mondt Floragraph
The second floragraph will recognize Johnathan Mondt, a hero from Winnemucca. His loved ones shared, “He was a true warrior! He was diagnosed with cancer (T cell lymphoblastic lymphoma) at the age of 18, but still managed to go to work at Napa Auto Parts every single day. Even after getting chemotherapy on his lunch breaks, he would still get right back to work. Johnny beat his cancer at 21 years old and just a few months later, he met his beautiful wife, Cheyenne, who nicknamed him Puffin. The two got married on October 24, 2015 and shared two beautiful children together (Draven and Maleena). Johnny loved working on vehicles. He ended up becoming a heavy-duty mechanic for Hycroft Mining when he was 28 and absolutely loved his job. On his days off, Johnny would work on his truck or put car stereo systems together for his friends. He always went above and beyond for those he considered his friends, but most of all his family. If you needed help with anything, he would drop what he was doing and help. Even if Johnny was tired from work, he always made time for his wife and children to make sure they had smiles on their faces. He had one of the biggest hearts around and everyone who knew him loved him dearly. Johnny was the youngest of three older brothers (James, Michael and Stephen). His three older brothers ended up opening a garage in honor of him and named it ‘Mondtster Garage’ and even dedicated a bay with a toolbox and photos of Johnny just to remind everyone, even though he’s passed away, he’s still with us. Johnny was one of the best people to walk this earth and not a day goes by where his family doesn’t think of him, because he was one of the greatest men in their lives. He would never consider himself a hero by any means, but his family sure does because of the donation he was able to make after his passing. He, without a doubt, would consider this legacy an honor and to be able to ride on the Donate Life Rose Parade ® float such a meaningful experience. Even though Johnny is no longer with us, we know he is always watching over his family.” 

Each hero’s loved ones will travel to Pasadena for a ‘viewing trip’ to help finalize the Donate Life Rose Parade ® float with fresh roses, meet the volunteer who created their loved one’s floragraph, watch the entire judging process, celebrate New Year’s Eve and honor their loved one’s memory as the float travels down Colorado Boulevard during the 2023 Rose Parade. As the world’s most visible campaign showcasing the hope organ, eye and tissue brings to so many, this is such a powerful and special experience for the courageous donor families who participate. Stay tuned on our Facebook page for photos  from the event!