When the Tournament of Roses Parade winds through Pasadena on Thursday, some people who've had thorny diseases will have a very rosy view.
These cancer survivors are set to ride City of Hope's 35-foot-long cancer research and recovery-themed float on Jan. 1, meant to inspire others with cancer that they can survive the disease.
Among them will be Gavin Wolfrank, who was helping to decorate the float Saturday at the Rosemont Pavillion.
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"It feels really exciting just to be honored," said Gavin, 9.
He was diagnosed with leukemia at 7 months old, City of Hope said. Gavin's mother said the research and treatment center supported both Gavin, who received a stem cell donation to combat the disease, and the family as whole.
Being in the parade means "representing those who, maybe their journey has been a little different and they are still fighting," said Gavin's mother, Diana Wolfrank, who added she was "so, so thankful" for the chance to ride the float.
City of Hope's 43rd Rose Parade float will have 7,500 roses and over 1,000 more carnations and gerberas.
The laboratory and hot air baloons depicted on the float were designed to show how a family makes the journey that starts with a cancer diagnosis, "from the science that saved their loved one to the future they now have," according to a City of Hope press release.
Other cancer survivors riding the float include 11-year-old brain cancer survivor Adi Penner, who hopes to be a Major Leage Baseball player, and Melina Fregoso and Evan Braggs, both 30, who met and bonded at City of Hope last year.
Gavin was excited to see the people from the float, especially his friend in the stands, he said, demonstrating his parade wave.
And it felt good to know Gavin would be motivating other kids coping with cancer, he said, passing on to them the encouragement he got from City of Hope during his treatment: "Good luck and hope you get through it."
The 126th Rose Parade steps off at 8 a.m. on New Years Day.