The cancellation of the 2021 Rose Parade this upcoming January is having an impact on JJ’s Legacy, a Bakersfield non-profit that partakes in the parade every year.
23ABC’s Bayne Froney spoke to the founder of JJ’s Legacy to learn how they plan to honor those who passed away and donated organs this year without the traditional parade.
While the parade may be canceled, JJ’s Legacy said their commitment to organ donation and celebrating those who give will continue through the pandemic.
JJ's Legacy is named after Bakersfield resident Jeffrey Johns, who died in 2009 from a tragic accident. His family agreed to donate his organs, which saved the lives of five people in need of organ transplants and healed 50 others through tissue donation. The family formed JJ's Legacy to inspire the community to Donate Life through organ, eye, and tissue donation.
For ten years the organization's Rose Parade float has honored organ donors with a floragraph, which is a portrait created with flowers, spices, or seeds. But this year, with the cancellation of the parade due to COVID-19 concerns, the non-profit is working to find a new way to honor these community members.
“Since the announcement came yesterday, we’re not sure exactly how we will move forward here in Kern County to be able to honor a loved one or several," explained Lori Malkin, founder of JJ’s Legacy. "But we hope that we can do something locally so that we can continue the legacy of human kindness to honor those loved ones.”
The parade wasn’t the only event canceled. This past April during the National Donate Life month - a time when hospitals around the country help with signing up organ donors - a yearly ceremony had to be scrapped.
“We have a flag ceremony outside of our hospital which is really a fun opportunity to show our support," said Anthony Black-Eggleston, regional manager for spiritual care at Mercy Memorial Hospital. "Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 situation, we had to cancel it for this year.”
But even with the pandemic, JJ's Legacy believes it's important to honor and celebrate organ donors and their families.
“JJ’s Legacy here in Kern County, we are just really blessed to have a lot of supporters that believe in our cause and we know that there is hope for more registered donors to save lives,” said Malkin.
As of now, JJ’s Legacy has not set a timeline for a celebration. 23ABC will keep you updated if a date or ceremony is set.
If you would like to become an organ donor, you can register on the Donate Life California website.