By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
Updated Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018
LifeShare of Oklahoma has unveiled the floral portraits of two Oklahomans who will be honored in this year’s national Rose Parade. Sandy Pekrul, of Enid, and Hance Henrie, of Owasso, will be representing the state in the Donate Life Rose Parade Float on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, California.
Oklahoma will also be represented by two transplant recipients from the Oklahoma City area: Mike McClellin and Kaylee Rayburn.
LifeShare is the organ procurement organization in Oklahoma responsible for the recovery of organs and tissue for transplant purposes.
Every year, LifeShare of Oklahoma helps sponsor the Rose Parade Donate Life Float to raise awareness for organ, eye and tissue donation. As a sponsor, LifeShare is able to send one recipient to ride the float and one donor portrait to be honored on the float.
This year, Oklahoma will have an additional recipient and donor portrait honored on the float, thanks to the sponsorship of the Aidan Hooper Foundation and Promathera Biosciences.
The 2019 Donate Life Rose Parade Float themed, Rhythm of the Heart, will feature the musical diversity and rhythms of Africa. Djembe drums from Senegal and a Kuba drum from the Congo will be the background for 44 floral portraits, honoring the generosity of deceased donors.
Twenty-six living donors or transplant recipients will ride or walk beside the Rhythym of the Heart float, along with, a giant marimba from Ghana, and an exotic kora (a stringed instrument) from Burkina Faso. On the rear of the float will be chiwara (stylized antelope) headdress from Mali.
A tissue donor, Hance Henrie will be honored on the float in a floragraph, a portrait created with floral materials such as seeds, grains, spices, and dried flowers. He is one of 44 donors to be featured on this year’s float.
With a love for adventure and the outdoors, Hance enjoyed skydiving, rock climbing, camping, scuba diving, biking and running. On a full NROTC scholarship, Hance pursued a degree in geography. He aspired to become a marine like his grandfather.
The night before completing his first year of college, Hance’s life was tragically lost to a drunk driver. His family knew that he would have wished to help others through donation.
According to his mother, Hance donated the gift of sight to a man so he could see the wonders of the world. “It is a comfort knowing that others were blessed from Hance’s gifts of life,” Jill Henrie said.
From Enid, Sandy Pekrul will also be honored in a floragraph on the Donate Life Float. Sandy enjoyed volunteering her time to help others, singing in her church choir and adored her yellow lab puppy, Lucy.
Sandy cherished her children, Adam and Angela, and was involved in every aspect of their lives. She wanted to be their friend, even more than their mom. After an unexpected and tragic event, Sandy lost her life. A registered organ donor, she had previously discussed donation with her family, so her spirit continued through her lifesaving gift.
“We are thankful to have the opportunity to honor Hance and Sandy at the Rose Parade this year as they represent the lifesaving gifts of organ, eye and tissue donation,” said Jeffrey Orlowski, president and chief executive officer of LifeShare of Oklahoma.
Donor recipient Mike McClellin was born with the hereditary condition, Nail-Patella Syndrome.
Mike was nine years old when his father died from the same condition. He was 34 years old when his doctor told him that he needed to prepare for a kidney transplant.
In 2001, Mike received a call that changed his life forever. After learning that a kidney was available for him, he felt the gravity of another family grieving the loss of their loved one.
Mike received his kidney from donor Sandy Pekrul. His interactions with her family make Mike a constant reminder of her generosity. Today, he enjoys spending time with his wife and grandchildren and competes in the Transplant Games of America.
Kaylee Rayburn is a liver transplant recipient. She was five months old when she was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia. In January of the next year, Kaylee underwent a successful kidney transplant.
While thrilled she was given the gift of life, Kaylee’s family mourned for the mother that had lost a child and made the difficult decision to save another’s life though organ donation.
Kaylee now participates in activities she loves, including horseback riding, gymnastics, softball, tennis and ballet. She is thankful for her relationship with her younger sister and her best friend, Maddie.
“We are hopeful that when recipients like Mike and Kaylee share their stories, it will inspire others to register to become an organ, eye and tissue donor” Orlowski said. “Our Rose Parade honorees will not only be representing the importance of donation, but also serving as representatives of approximately 700 citizens of Oklahoma who are waiting on a lifesaving transplant.”
LifeShare encourages everyone to watch the 129th Rose Parade on New Year’s Day.
“With a worldwide audience in the hundreds of millions, these individuals will serve as representatives of Oklahoma and the approximately 700 citizens of the state who are waiting on a lifesaving transplant.”
For more information, visit.lifeshareoklahoma.org.