Young Nevada Organ Donor To Be Honored In Rose Parade

Nancy Ponte, donor mother. Photo: Donor Network West.

A floral portrait of Haylee Ponte will adorn the Donate Life Float


Haylee Ponte, a college student from Sparks who died unexpectedly in 2015 and became an organ and tissue donor, was honored at the University of Nevada, Reno on Tuesday, when her family put the final touches to the floragraph that will be placed on the Donate Life Rose Parade® float in her memory.

The event, which was organized by Donor Network West — the federally designated organ and tissue recovery organization for Northern Nevada- took place at the University of Nevada, Reno’s Joe Crowley Student Union.

Haylee was an active and vibrant young woman with a heart for her community. She loved to ski, dance, and travel with family and friends. She excelled academically as a biochemistry student at the University, hoping to become a physician. She was also an altruist and volunteered her time for a Reno breast cancer charity and at a local hospital.

For over three decades, Donor Network West has served the Nevada community by connecting a donor’s gift to those in need.

A floral portrait of Haylee will adorn the 2019 Donate Life Rose Parade float, Rhythm of the Heart, alongside 43other floragraphs in memory of organ, eye, and tissue donors from across the United States.

Speakers at the December 4 gathering included John Lilley, Nevada Regional Director for Donor Network West, Dr. Neda Etezadi-Amoli, Interim Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, and Nancy Ponte, Haylee’s mother. Liver recipient and local musician, Dan Palmer, performed a song in Haylee’s honor.

For over three decades, Donor Network West has served the Nevada community by connecting a donor’s gift to those in need. Organ, eye, and tissue donation offers the hope to heal. The generous decisions of donors and their families allow the organization to recover and allocate organs and tissues for transplantation and research. Thanks to these heroes, the organization can carry out its mission of saving and healing lives.

The Rose Parade, which will take place in Pasadena, Calif. on New Year’s Day, will be watched by an estimated 700,000 spectators and seen by over 63 million television viewers worldwide.

More than 600 Nevadans are waiting for an organ transplant. Anyone can register as an organ and tissue donor at the DMV or at To learn more about Haylee’s story, click here.


About ThisIsReno 13269 Articles
ThisisReno is your source for online Reno news and events since 2009. We are locally owned and operated. #thisisReno