TULSA, Okla. — The Rose Parade is a New Year's Day tradition, but like so many things this year, it'll be a virtual celebration instead of in-person parade.
The show will go on, and in the center of it all, three Oklahomans will be honored.
"A really good day is when we can save as many lives as possible." Luci Pham is an Oklahoma frontline worker who'll be in the national spotlight New Year's Day.
"A huge honor. I've never experienced anything like that in my life!" Pham said.
Pham works for Lifeshare of Oklahoma, an organ and tissue transplant non-profit.
"She's just an absolute champion for donor families. Incredible professional, a very caring loving person, and really connects with our team and with the donors. And she's made countless transplants happen in her years at Lifeshare," said Jeffrey Orlowski, President and CEO of Lifeshare.
Pham's picture will be featured as one of 6 healthcare heroes on the 'Donate Life' float in the Tournament of Roses broadcast.
The floral sculpture is true to Rose Parade roots. It will be made of all natural materials, a vibrant honeycomb with bees flying around it. The message: We are stronger when we work together as a community.
Orlowski said, "So for the portraits, or floragraphs, what they do is take a picture and etch it onto wood, and then go back with coffee grounds, and ground up leaves and flower petals and different things, and they paint the picture of the donor out of those types of materials."
Viewers will see floragraphs of 27 donor heroes in all, including Oklahoma organ donors Mariee Mena and Kolby Crum.
Earlier this year, Crum and his cross country teammates were struck by a speeding vehicle in a school zone. Crum and two others who lost their lives in that accident. Crum joined the organ donor registry just months before.
Mena, a star University of Oklahoma softball player, died in a motorcycle accident. Her family lives in California, and will be able to see the Lifeshare Float in person.
"We really try to celebrate the memory of the donor and the gift that they've given and the lives that they've touched," said Orlowski.
Despite the pandemic, Lifeshare of Oklahoma received record donations this year, with more than 500 lives saved and nearly 60,000 tissue donations.
Orlowski said, "I think it goes back to Oklahoma Strong. At a time when the community is in crisis, we tend to come together and rally to support each other."
And now the national community is celebrating Pham, an Oklahoman serving others.
"It's an enormous feeling when someone who thinks they're not going to have a tomorrow, has a lot of tomorrows," said Pham.
If you're interested in becoming an organ donor and for more information on Lifeshare of Oklahoma CLICK HERE.
The Donate Life float will be revealed during the Rose Parade special on New Year's Day. You can see that right here on 2 Works for You, starting at 11 a.m.
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