Local transplant recipient rides in Rose Parade

Local transplant recipient rides in Rose Parade

January 4, 2008

With tens of thousands of people watching in person and millions more tuned in from around the world, Tracy Copeland got to practice her princess wave on Tuesday.

The Sparks resident and liver transplant recipient rode in Donate Life’s “Life Takes Flight” float in the 2008 Rose Parade, which earned the Judges’ Special Trophy for most spectacular in showmanship and dramatic impact.

The parade capped off five days of events that Copeland participated in as one of five winners of an essay contest, sponsored by pharmaceutical company Astellas.

Nineteen others whose lives were touched by the Donate Life also were on the float, which featured hot air balloons with florographs, large pictures made of flowers, of 40 organ donors, including Terry Snow.

Copeland received Snow’s liver nearly 10 years ago when he was in a fatal motorcycle accident. She has since become close with his family. His parents, John and Kathy Snow, and his sister, Lynn Paulsen, accompanied Copeland and her daughter, Erica, to Pasadena, Calif., for the events.

“We had an absolutely fabulous, fun-filled time,” Copeland said.

The group arrived Friday and had a welcome dinner with Astellas. On Saturday, there was a float dedication ceremony and a Donate Life dinner. Sunday they decorated the float, and on Monday the floats were judged.

“The parade itself was just incredible,” Copeland said. “Our float really drew a lot of attention. Several of them (were) emotionally moved as our float came by.”

She said the experience was overwhelming.

“Our family and friends had special grandstand seating. When we hit that grandstand seating, there was no doubt where we were — everyone could hear it. It was an emotional, blessed experience,” Copeland said. “My prayer is that I continue to use the things I’ve been able to achieve to help spread the word about the need for organ donation.”

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