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Honoring Gift of Life at Fiesta Bowl Parade


Each year, Donate Life Arizona honors all who are touched by the gift of donation at the Fiesta Bowl Parade. Donor families and recipients walk side-by-side in Donate Life Arizona’s parade segment, showcasing the legacies created through organ, eye and tissue donation. Accompanying these touching stories was a giant balloon of Reggie, the Donor Cactus, and a passionate group of dancers who energized the crowd along the streets.

Heart recipient Dylan McQueen with his family.

This year, 11-year-old Dylan McQueen was among those holding posters proclaiming his lifesaving gift. At eight months old, Dylan received a heart transplant. This transplant gave him the chance to grow up and go on to win a state championship in wrestling as well as four medals at the 2018 Transplant Games.

His mother says that with the gift of a healthy heart came another gift, “the gift of appreciating every day for what it is.”


Graciela Sanchez (center) walks in her daughter’s honor.

In 2017, Graciela Sanchez walked in the Fiesta Bowl Parade with Donate Life Arizona for the first time, and made incredible connections along the way. Her daughter, Karen Hernandez, passed away at 18 years old and made an incredible impact on the world. Short as Karen’s time here was, her compassion continued when she saved and healed 23 people through organ and tissue donation. That compassion manifested in Karen’s heart recipient, whom Graciela met at the parade for the first time. Graciela walked in her daughter’s honor again in 2019, celebrating this renewed life.

Also proudly walking behind the enthusiastic Donate Life Arizona dancers was donor mom Dana Ayers. Dana held a poster honoring her 16-year-old daughter, Hannah Pairrett. Hannah was athletic, charitable and selfless. When she passed away earlier this year, she granted the gift of life to five others.

Donor mother Dana Ayers holding a poster of her daughter Hannah.

Every December, we are grateful for the opportunity to gather together and honor our loved ones while also showing support for donation. In these moments, we are able to see the impact that donation has and the true gift that life really is.

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