Outlive Yourself : Stories & Updates

The Ride of a Lifetime

Posted by Guest Writer

17

Jan

2014

Rose_Parade_Float_Donate_Life

I first “met” Nefeterius through twitter messages back and forth last year. She was doing a great job of letting people know about the gift of organ donation and she just seemed to have an amazing outlook on life. It didn’t take long for the two of us to get on the phone and learn about our journeys and purpose.

We had a chance to meet each other and help each other’s efforts and she was a natural to be selected as our 2014 Rider for the Donate Life Rose Bowl Parade Float.

- Todd Storch, Co-Founder


Guest Post Written By Nefeterius Akeli McPherson, Liver Recipient

**Update from the Editor - May 21, 2014: We are heartbroken to report that Nefeterius has passed, but hopeful that her spirit lives on. Read more: 74,649,600 Seconds: Making Every Moment Count.

January 1, 2014 – a day that I will remember for the rest of my life. It’s the day that I, along with 29 other transplant recipients, rode on the Donate Life Rose Parade Float in Pasadena, California. I can honestly say that it was the ride of a lifetime. I am so very grateful that Taylor’s Gift sponsored me as a float rider. What an honor!

I’m Speechless!

IMG_5628It seems like it was just yesterday that I was preparing to catch a flight to Charleston, West Virginia in July 2013. I was going to speak to a group about Taitlyn Shae Hughes (my organ donor), my liver transplant journey and why organ donation is so very important. When my phone rang, Tara Storch was on the other line informing me that Taylor’s Gift wanted to sponsor me to ride on the Donate Life Float. I was speechless! I immediately started crying.

Just seven months earlier - on New Year’s Day 2013 - as I was at home watching the Rose Parade, I told myself that I had to get to Pasadena soon so I could see the Donate Life float and Rose Parade in person. In my mind, if you’re going to attend a bowl game it’s best to see the granddaddy of them all, and being a football FANatic, of course I wanted to attend a game at the Rose Bowl. I had no idea that my dreams would come true exactly one year later. 

My flight left Dallas heading to Los Angeles on December 29, and I was really sick the day before. I was so sick that I honestly did not think I would be able to make the trip. I hardly slept the night before but I prayed like crazy, and asked others to pray for me, to just be well enough to get on the plane. I knew that if I could get to Pasadena, I would find a way to be on the float on New Year’s Day. Thankfully, I made my flight and slept the entire way. When I landed, I could tell I was starting to feel a lot better and it was at that point that I knew my health was trending in the right direction; I was going to enjoy my stay in Pasadena.

Overwhelmed in Pasadena

From December 29 to the 31, there were several events for the Donate Life float riders and float walkers as well as floragraph families. It was an honor to talk to the living donors who walked with our float. They donated an organ to save someone’s life, and to me they are true heroes. It was also extremely humbling to talk to the floragraph families. These are the people whose loved ones had been organ donors and their pictures were featured on the float. Prior to arriving in Pasadena, I'd read about the floragraph honorees, but there is nothing like hearing their family members personally talk about their loved one. It was such a joy to talk to other float riders about their transplants and how well they are doing now.

While transplant recipients go on with a new and improved life, it is not so easy for donor families. Each time I saw someone with a “Floragraph family” button I stopped what I was doing and started talking with them. I always personally thank donor families for giving transplant patients like me the gift of life. At some point they start to take the appropriate steps to move forward with life; however, their hearts never become whole again. It is the very reason that I spend as much time as I do getting to know donor families and learning about the amazing heroes who have saved lives.
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It was such a pleasure to walk around Pasadena and randomly talk to people about organ donation. I met Drew, a young transplant recipient in a coffee shop whose mom - Mika - created the logo for the Transplant Games of America, as well as Linda, the owner of Bittersweet Treats whose cookies and cupcakes I had been eyeing daily on Instagram. I even met people who camped out on the Pasadena sidewalks on New Year’s Eve so they could get a good seat for the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day.
 
I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed myself!
 
This photo is of me with Linda Chen, owner of Bittersweet Treats located in Pasadena, California.

An Amazing Encounter

IMG_5848I will never be able to fully describe what I experienced as a float rider on the 2014 Donate Life Rose Parade Float. I have been very fortunate to experience a lot of incredible things during the short 39 years that I have been alive. However, nothing, and I do mean nothing, compares to riding on this float. At one point as our float was traveling down Colorado Boulevard I heard a young man yell out, “That’s my cousin!” I looked in his direction and said, “Taitlyn?”
 
When he said yes, I got so excited. It blew me away that I was holding a picture of my organ donor and one of her family members ended up seeing me in person on the float. When our float stopped in front of the donor families, I started waving like crazy and screaming at the top of my lungs. Tears welled up in my eyes because I felt so deeply connected to them. It’s amazing to know that parts of their loved ones live on in so many people.
 
Transplant recipients like me would not be alive without the selfless gifts that donors such as 13-year-old Taylor Storch, 12-year-old Taitlyn, and the countless others that give as donors. They are heroes. They are angels. They are selfless. They are lifesavers. They are loved. They are missed. If you have not registered to become a donor, please do so today. Outlive Yourself!

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Nefeterius Akeli McPherson, a graduate of Southern Methodist University and the University of Texas at Dallas, is a lawyer and former political appointee in the Obama Administration. She received her liver transplant on November 6, 2011, at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., and has made it her mission to educate others about the importance of organ donation and how it saves lives.

Follow @nefeterius on Twitter and "Like" her on Facebook.

Read about our sponsored rider of the 2013 Donate Life Rose Bowl Float!

Topics: My Stories

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