Five families celebrate their todays and their tomorrows atop City of Hopes Rose Parade float

December 1, 2014
DUARTE, Calif. – On Jan. 1, for the 43rd year, cancer research and treatment center City of Hope will participate in the 126th Tournament of Roses Parade. This year, they’ll be joined by five families celebrating their futures – futures they wouldn’t have had without City of Hope.

The cancer survivors and their loved ones atop City of Hope’s float entry, titled “Made Possible by HOPE,” will celebrate their journeys beyond cancer – journeys they’ll make together because of the researchers, physicians, nurses and staff at City of Hope. Those journeys offer inspiration to everyone fighting cancer.
  • Kari Penner, a 31-year-old single mother from Simi Valley, California, will ride the float with her 11- year-old adopted son, Adi. Their story began in 2003 at a Romanian orphanage when Adi had been abandoned at birth. Soon after their meeting, Adi was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma. Kari fought to give him the best chance of survival – and a home filled with love and support.
  • Melina Fregoso is joyfully celebrating a year that will be very different from the one before. Last holiday season, she had just been diagnosed with breast cancer at age 29.  Melina came to City of Hope at the recommendation of Evan Bragg, a previous City of Hope patient who was saved by a bone marrow transplant. Now they’re soul mates – and both cancer-free. “Melina and I will be forever grateful for the hope, chances, care, support, love and optimism that City of Hope provided us,” he says.
  • For Jin Ge, a husband and father of two from the Bay Area, the fight to survive leukemia unfolded before his young daughters’ eyes – and with the support of a network that extended all the way to China. This New Year’s Day is, in a way, his anniversary. On this day in 2008, Ge’s cord blood cell transplant began to take effect. As his daughter, Christina puts it, “Daddy’s white blood cells began to grow to 0.1, the next day 0.3. It was a miracle,” she says. “A new life grew with the new year.”
  • Vicky Graham, a resident of Apple Valley, California, has defied the odds of many lung cancer patients and will ride the float with her husband and the daughter who became her caregiver during treatment. “City of Hope has made it possible that I’m alive,” she says. “I am well and have been able to attend all four of our children’s weddings over these past seven years.”
  • The Wolfrank family will ride the float the same way they fought son Gavin’s leukemia – together. Diagnosed at 7 months old, Gavin was saved by a stem cell donation from a young woman in the United Kingdom – and a team effort of City of Hope staff and his parents and sister. “We are inspired daily as we watch Gavin just be himself,” says Diana, Gavin’s mom. “Our life today truly is made possible by City of Hope.”

The float itself symbolizes the science, research, commitment and emotion that make futures possible for City of Hope patients. The vignette features a DNA helix, along with what are known as wish tags, symbols of hopes and dreams for people fighting cancer; the hot air balloons represent those hopes and dreams made real.

“Truly Brave,” the inspirational song blending Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” and Sara Bareille’s “Brave," will play as the float travels down Colorado Boulevard. “Truly Brave” was part of a special project created by NBC Today Show anchor, Hoda Kotb, to raise awareness and funds for childhood cancer.

To bring the spirit of the Rose Parade directly to patients and families, City of Hope will host a parade viewing party inside City of Hope Helford Clinical Research Hospital on New Year’s morning.

City of Hope’s float is built by Phoenix Decorating Company. Volunteers interested in decorating City of Hope’s float can sign up for decorating shifts via Event Brite.

For more information, go to For media inquiries, please contact [email protected].
Dominique Grignetti
[email protected]

About City of Hope
City of Hope is a leading research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. Designated as a comprehensive cancer center, the highest recognition bestowed by the National Cancer Institute, City of Hope is also a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, with research and treatment protocols that advance care throughout the nation. City of Hope’s main hospital is located in Duarte, California, with clinics in Antelope Valley and South Pasadena and has been ranked as one of “America’s Best Hospital” in cancer by U.S. News & World Report. Founded in 1913, City of Hope is a pioneer in the fields of bone marrow transplantation and genetics.

About Phoenix Decorating Company
Now in its 33rd year, Phoenix Decorating Company will be sending its 756th Rose Parade float down Colorado Boulevard in 2015. The Rose Parade float builder of choice, is responsible for 17 of the 39 floats in the 126th edition of the parade. The leader in innovative float design, animation, hydraulics, pyrotechnics and live performances, Phoenix Decorating Company excels in brand integration and support to clients that will bring award winning floats for years to come. For more information please visit,