By TERESA ANN BOECKEL | Daily Record/Sunday News
York, PA - For Missy Sweitzer, it was a once-in-a-lifetime ride on the Donate Life float, which won a trophy in Saturday's Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif.
Parade watchers flashed a thumbs up, blew kisses and even gave a standing ovation, she said.
One woman walked up to Sweitzer when the float came to a standstill and asked her to share her story.
Sweitzer's son, 20-year-old Zachary, died in a crash on Thanksgiving 2008, and he saved six lives through organ donation.
"I told her my story, and she gave me a hug," Sweitzer said Saturday during a telephone interview.
The float, titled "Seize the Day," won the 2011 Theme Trophy from the Tournament of Roses, according to the Donate Life's twitter feed. The theme of the parade was Building Dreams, Friendships and Memories.
Sweitzer called the award "awesome."
Sweitzer, who carried a photograph of Zac during the parade, said she enjoyed making eye contact with the crowd and wishing everyone a happy new year.
"The experience, I really don't think I could put into words," she said.
She got to meet some York County natives, including Valen Cover, a kidney recipient and fellow float rider, and Craig Haverstick and his dog, Stanley.
Haverstick and Stanley were set to appear on a record-setting float featuring dogs jumping into a tank of water and skimboarding.
Sweitzer said she and her family have made some friendships that will last a lifetime.
"I think I want to come back again," she said.