Cathedral City Man to Be Honored as an Organ and Tissue Donor Hero on the Donate Life Float in the 2017 Rose Parade®

RIVERSIDE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Ishmiel Ward, a young Cathedral City man with a generous spirit and big
heart, will be honored as an organ and tissue donor on the Donate Life
float in the 2017 Tournament of Roses Parade®. Today Ishmiel’s family
put the finishing touches on a floral portrait of his likeness, called a
floragraph, during a special unveiling ceremony with Donate Life
California at the Riverside East office of the California Department of
Motor Vehicles (DMV). The Donate Life float, Teammates in Life, a
Polynesian-style catamaran, will sail down the streets of Pasadena
during the 128th Rose Parade® on January 2, 2017.

Ish, as his family called him, was involved in church and youth group
activities and expressed a desire to go into the military. However, in
June 2011, at just 20 years old, his life was tragically cut short.
Through their grief, Ish’s family decided to help others by donating his
organs and tissue, saving the life of his great aunt in New York with a
directed kidney donation. Ish’s lungs, liver and other kidney saved
three other people in Southern California; and his gifts of bone tissue
helped countless others.

“We are a big, close family; and we all saw organ and tissue donation as
a way for him and us to pay it forward,” says Shirley Howell, Ishmiel’s
aunt and manager at the Riverside East DMV office. “The pain of losing
Ish will never go away. But his last act as a donor is a comfort because
we know he lives on in others.”

DMV and Donate Life California became state-authorized partners in 2006.
Since then more than 600,000 lives have been saved and healed thanks to
registered organ, eye and tissue donors in California, 95 percent of
whom checked “YES!” at the DMV.

“Every time I hear a story about a lifesaving donation such as Ishmiel
Ward’s, I appreciate the special meaning and impact our partnership has
had for so many donor recipients and their families,” said DMV Director
Jean Shiomoto. “I would like to personally thank Donate Life California
for honoring a DMV family member on the Donate Life Rose Parade float.”

“This year’s float theme reminds us that no one succeeds alone – and
that’s reflected in our partnership with the DMV. They truly are our
teammates in life. Without a doubt, we are saving and healing more lives
thanks to the DMV,” said Tom Mone, Donate Life California board member,
chairman of the Donate Life float committee, and CEO of OneLegacy, the
nonprofit organ, eye and tissue recovery organization serving the
greater Los Angeles area. “We are deeply grateful to the staff at the
DMV, who help us spread the word about the lifesaving power of organ,
eye and tissue donation. They, along with all of the float’s sponsors,
enable us to deliver life-changing messages on one of the biggest stages
in the U.S., the Tournament of Roses Parade.”
More than 22,000
people in California await lifesaving organ transplants. Despite the
vital need, only about 45 percent of adults in California are signed up
to be organ, eye and tissue donors. In addition to the DMV, signup on
the registry is available at

Each day in the U.S., 22 people die waiting because the organ they
needed did not come available in time. Organs needed for transplant are
heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas or intestine.

Tissue transplants, meanwhile, save and heal lives. Tissues for
transplant include cornea, skin, heart valves, bone tissue, tendons,
veins, ligaments and cartilage. More than a million tissue transplants
are done each year, and the surgical need for tissue has been steadily
rising. Corneal transplants restore sight to nearly 50,000 people each

from Donate Life California:

  • One in five on the U.S. organ transplant waiting list lives in
  • All major religions support or permit organ, eye and tissue donation.
  • You’re never too old or sick to be a registered organ, eye and tissue

About the Donate
Life Float in the 2017 Rose Parade®

The 2017 Donate Life Rose Parade float, Teammates in Life, reflects the
parade’s theme, “Echoes of Success,” by reminding us that no one
succeeds alone. We all thrive by working together and pulling in the
same direction. Donors save the lives of grateful recipients and help
families heal, and it is the large community of registered donors that
makes it possible to save thousands of lives across the country each

The float design depicts a spectacular Polynesian catamaran, which will
be propelled by a team of 24 organ, eye and tissue transplant recipients
rowing in unison with strength gained from their donors. The sails of
the vessel will feature 60 floral portraits (floragraphs) of donors
interwoven with Polynesian designs and patterns. Just as the donors’
gifts empower the lives of others, the sails help power the catamaran on
its journey. Sixteen living donors will walk alongside the float
carrying flowers in celebration of the life they have given to others
and the quality of life they continue to enjoy themselves. The ocean
waves will showcase 1,000 white Akito roses, individually dedicated in
memory of specific donors. Vibrant i’iwi and ‘amakihi birds perch mong
the lush landscape of tropical flowers and palm threes while a pair of
tikis, representing light and life, abundance and peace, peer out of the
jungle. The float will exude life with colorful, exotic blooms grown in
Hawai’i especially for the occasion. The float will sail down the
streets of Pasadena during the 128th Rose Parade on Monday, January 2,
2017, at 8 a.m. (PST).

About Donate Life California

Donate Life California is the nonprofit, state-authorized organ, eye and
tissue donor registry. Individuals can add their name to the registry by
checking “YES!” every time they renew/apply for their driver’s license
or ID card at the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This
ensures their desire to donate life will be carried out. A pink “DONOR”
dot is added to their driver’s license or ID as a symbol of their
decision. Individuals can also sign up online at
As a public service, the registry ensures all personal information is
kept confidential and stored in a secure database, accessible only to
authorized organ and tissue recovery personnel at the time of an actual
donation opportunity. The registry is administered by Donate Life
California and California’s four nonprofit, federally designated organ
procurement organizations (OPOs): Donor Network West, Lifesharing,
OneLegacy and Sierra Donor Services.


Donate Life California
Brianne Mundy Page, 858-220-8351
& Other Media Resources:
Llavaneras, 213-503-9285