Everyone loved Ishmiel Ward, and he loved everyone back. Ishmiel, a young man from Cathedral City, California, was committed to school, involved in his church, and wanted to grow up to have a career in the military. Tragically, his life was cut short in 2011. But Ishmiel lives on in the lives of others.
After his passing, Ishmiel became an organ and tissue donor, saving lives and giving others the opportunity to heal. And today, he’ll be among hundreds of donors honored on the Donate Life float in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena.
Every year, the Donate Life community comes together to help create a float that’s propelled and guided by organ and tissue recipients, and this year is no different. Called Teammates in Life, this year’s float is a colorful Polynesian-style catamaran. It represents the values of Donate Life and the fact that everyone relies on others throughout life, and when teams work together and pull in the same direction, they thrive.
That healing is exactly what Ishmiel’s family members hope they’re able to take away from this year’s parade. While it was devastating to lose Ishmiel so early in life, they say events like the Rose Parade mean that his memory will live on — as will his dream of wanting to help and serve others.
Today, members of Ishmiel’s family are speaking out about how organ and tissue donors can make a difference. Ishmiel’s aunt Shirley, a manager at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), will tell anyone who will listen about her nephew — and then encourage them to register to become a donor online or the next time they’re at the DMV.
As we honor Ishmiel and other donors and their recipients today in the Rose Parade, consider becoming a registered donor. The bigger the donor community, the more lives we can save — so get started here.