Sentinel Progress

Sam Wyche to ride on the The Donate Life Rose Parade float

PICKENS —Former NFL coach and sports analyst Sam Wyche is being honored by Sharing Hope SC and Donate Life South Carolina as one of seventeen transplant recipients from across the country who have been chosen to ride on the 2018 Donate Life Float at the 129th Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day.

The formal announcement will be on Thursday, Nov. 9th during the Clemson Area Chamber of Commerce meeting which begins at 12 p.m. and is held at Occasions at Wedgefield, at 1551 Eighteen Mile Road, Central, S.C.

“This special opportunity to honor Sam Wyche is made possible through a grant from Bridge to Life, a South Carolina based biotechnology company dedicated to advancing the science of organ procurement and preservation,” said Mark Johnson, media relations coordinator for Sharing Hope SC.

Wyche’s honor is also being co-sponsored by LifeShare of The Carolinas and Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.

“This is the tenth year Donate Life South Carolina and Sharing Hope SC have participated in the Donate Life Rose Parade Float program,” he said. “Sam Wyche is the fourth South Carolina organ and/or tissue recipient to be honored as a float rider.”

Wyche received a heart transplant at Carolinas HealthCare System’s Carolinas Medical Center just over one year ago.

“His life-saving transplant came just hours before he was going to be transferred to hospice care,” said Johnson. “Since that operation, Wyche is doing well and keeping his new heart healthy by riding his bike daily through the hills of Pickens County in the Upstate.”

According to Johnson, Wyche is now on a mission to “give back” and increase awareness about the need for more organ, eye and tissue donors.

“As he travels the country giving inspirational, motivational and humorous presentations based on his personal story, he always includes his powerful transplant story followed with details on how to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor,” he said.

This year’s float entry, “The Gift of Time,” reflects the parade’s theme — Making a Difference — by celebrating the power of kindness and the generous acts of people throughout the world who are making a positive difference in the lives of others.

“Perhaps no act is more emblematic of this than becoming an organ, eye and tissue donor,” an agency spokesperson said. “A single organ donor can save the lives of up to eight people and improve the lives of as many as seventy-five more by donating their corneas and tissue.”

Celebrating its fifteenth year of participating in the parade, the Donate Life Rose Parade Float is the centerpiece of a national effort by more than fifty organizations to reach a broad audience with the simple, life-giving message that organ, eye and tissue donation saves and heals lives.

“In South Carolina, there are over 1,000 people waiting to receive a lifesaving heart, liver, lung, kidney or pancreas transplant. That number grows to over 116,000 nationally; but there are simply not enough donors to meet the growing need,” says David DeStefano, CEO of Sharing Hope SC, the nonprofit organ and tissue recovery organization serving South Carolina. “Last year was a record year with more than 33,000 lifesaving transplants performed in the United States. Tragically twenty-two people still die each day while waiting for a lifesaving organ donation. It is our hope that the float calls attention to this message and motivates others to register to be a donor.”

As the world’s most visible organ, eye and tissue donation awareness campaign, the Donate Life Rose Parade Float inspires to register as organ, eye and tissue donors.

In South Carolina, residents can register at the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, online at or through the Medical Tab of the Health App on their iPhone.

Wyche File photo
This year’s float entry, “The Gift of Time,” reflects the parade’s theme — Making a Difference. year’s float entry, “The Gift of Time,” reflects the parade’s theme — Making a Difference. Courtesy photo
The Rose parade is held annually on Jan. 1. Rose parade is held annually on Jan. 1. Courtesy photo

By Kasie Strickland

Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.