Local Family Represents UNYTS in 2012 Rose Parade

December 29, 2011 Updated Dec 29, 2011 at 5:06 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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Local Family Represents UNYTS in 2012 Rose Parade

December 29, 2011 Updated Dec 29, 2011 at 5:06 PM EDT

(WKBW release) -- Claudia Gerlach of Williamsville is UNYTS’ 2012 sponsored rider in the 123rd Rose Parade. 

On Monday, Jan. 2nd the National “Donate Life” Float will debut in Pasadena, California from 11 a.m.- 1 p.m. on WKBW. 

On February 2, 2003, Alison Gerlach's life came to a sudden and tragic end.  Only seventeen years old and a senior at Williamsville South High School, she was an outstanding athlete and student.

Ali was struck with a sudden and inexplicable stroke. Four days later, she was diagnosed with Moya Moya disease.  This rare disorder, involving blockage of the main arteries and blood vessels to the brain, presently has no known cause or cure. Ali died three days later.

Upon Ali’s death, her mother, Claudia Gerlach, and her husband, Randy, chose to honor Ali’s memory by contributing her organs to other needy children and adults as a reflection of her unselfish love. Ali lives on because of her gift of organs and life to others.  For instance, an 11-year-old girl received Ali's heart, a 40-year-old woman received Ali's pancreas and a kidney, Ali's lungs went to a mother of two, and Ali's liver went to a 47-year-old father.  The Gerlach family donated these organs to share the Gift of Life and to keep other families from enduring the pain they experienced with the loss of Ali.

To continue to bring the Gift of Life to others, the Ali's Rally Foundation was born.  Since its inception, Ali’s Rally has raised over $145,000 for UNYTS.  Those funds are specifically designated towards their “Donate Life Clubs,” a high school outreach program with the objective of continuing to make Western New York aware of the need for organ donation.

Now the Gerlach family hopes to encourage parade viewers to save lives by signing up on the New York State Donor Registry and be inspired to join the 100 million Americans who have checked ‘Yes’ for donation when applying for or renewing their driver’s license or identification card.

Millions of Americans will tune in to watch the theme of the parade this year “Just Imagine…”

The 9th “Donate Life” Rose Parade Float theme is “…One More Day.”  The float entry is both a tribute to donors and recipients as well the most effective national platform for sharing the stories of hope, generosity, transformation and love.

The float is designed with floral clocks and clock towers from around the world and will carry 28 riders representing deceased organ, eye and tissue donors, living donors and transplant recipients.  Six enormous floral timepieces will be adorned with 72 memorial "floragraphs" of deceased donors whose gifts gave life and time to so many. 

Leading the “Donate Life” float is a rose dedication garden honoring more than 3,000 people worldwide, with each rose bearing a vial with a personal message honoring a loved one.  Anchoring the float is a 33-foot clock tower with an animated sun/moon dial reminding us to make each passing day count.