SAN DIEGO - Millions on Tuesday watched the annual Rose Parade in Pasadena on television and thousands saw it in person, but perhaps no one was more interested that San Carlos resident Rita McCrerey.
"The Donate Life float will always hold a special place for me," she said.
Seven years ago, McCrerey's husband Michael was literally within 24 hours of dying from liver disease when the call came in that there was an organ donor.
"I had come home from the hospital to die, but things change," he said.
Things changed for Kim Redman and Shanise Hamilton as well because of San Diego police Officer Jeremy Henwood. He was killed in the line of duty while sitting in his patrol car in August 2011.
Because Henwood was a donor, Redman and Hamilton are now off dialysis. Both were in Pasadena helping Henwood's mother Beverly and his sister Emily create a likeness of Jeremy that was featured along with other donors on this year's float.
McCrerey, who volunteered with Lifeshare after her husband was saved, also volunteered to help the Henwoods with this year's float.
"At first, they were a little intimidated," she said. "But after going up there and meeting all the other families, they now have a lifelong camaraderie with those who have gone through the same thing."
She added, "If Jeremy had died and not been an organ donor then he would have been done, remembered only by friends and family. But because he was a donor, he is now touching other lives."