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

Posted by & filed under Events, News, Press Release.

Ishmiel Ward, an organ & tissue donor from Cathedral City, Calif. is Donate Life California's 2017 Donate Life Rose Parade float floragraph honoree.

Ishmiel Ward, an organ & tissue donor from Cathedral City, Calif. is Donate Life California’s 2017 Donate Life Rose Parade float floragraph honoree.

RIVERSIDE, Calif., Dec. 7, 2016 – 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.”

DL-DMV-10DMV 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 life-saving 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.”

dlfloat_5w_300dpi_rgb“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 life-saving 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 life-saving 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 year.

Fast Facts from Donate Life California:

  • One in five on the U.S. organ transplant waiting list lives in California.
  • 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 donor.

Additional media contact: Tania Llavaneras, OneLegacy,, 213-503-9285

About the Donate Life Float in the 2017 Rose Parade®:

2017 Donate Life Float renderingThe 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 year.

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 among 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 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 license or ID as a symbol of their decision. Individuals can also sign up online at or 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.

Sign Up and Save Lives - Become and Organ, Eye & Tissue Donor

Switch to our desktop site