by Patrick Carmichael for TransplantNATION

Growing up in America has long included a tradition of spending New Year's morning in front of the television watching the Rose Parade in Pasadena. Memories abound of amazing, colorful floats, musicians and throngs of smiling, engaged spectators. In the innocence of a child, there was no concept of the messaging behind the floats, it was all about the grandeur and flourish of color. 

Bryan Stewart's book "Hope Blooms" takes us behind the scenes of one of the country's most cherished events with an incredibly detailed timeline explaining how a small organization was able to move from concept to finished product in the design and production of a Rose [Parade] float. Readers will never again watch the Rose Parade in the same way because Stewart's book describes a process that chronicles a gritty, and sometimes difficult, blueprint for success. Starting from scratch, one soon realizes the challenges of building an organization, fundraising, finding volunteers and getting necessary permits and approvals to build a float for the Rose Parade. If you ever need a "how to" on turning a dream into reality, keep "Hope Blooms" on your bookshelf. 

But this book isn't only about a parade float. Seeking a way to reach millions of people to communicate the success of organ, eye, and tissue donation, the idea of putting a floral message in front of millions of parade viewers was a stunning success and remains so today. We now watch this annual event to see friends and loved ones with examples and stories of sacrifice.

"Hope Blooms" challenges readers with a great deal of technical detail, but the author is very successful in interweaving dozens of stories of heroism that put humanity front and center and make all of us pause to think about the important world of donation and transplantation. The book references a song, "Wherever You Will Go," by The Calling, and the lyrics include:

"My life and love might still go on, 
In your heart, in your mind, I'll stay with you for all of time." 

This sense of hope should inspire all of us to ride or walk with the Donate Life Float in future years.

Patrick Carmichael is an international author who lives in Pembroke, Ontario, Canada.
Originally published in TransplantNATION, July 2018, Vol. 1, No. 2, p.9
Republished with permission.

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