Reflections on the Rose Parade From Easterseals Southern California CEO Mark Whitley

by Mark Whitley, President and CEO of Easterseals Southern California

Easterseals Southern California CEO Mark Whitley (left) and Easterseals National CEO Angela F. Williams (right), with the Rose Parade float riders.

Easterseals Southern California CEO Mark Whitley (left) and Easterseals National CEO Angela F. Williams (right), with the Rose Parade float riders.

Being a participant in the 2019 Rose Parade was a proud moment in Easterseals’ history. I can personally think of no better way for us to have kicked off our 100th anniversary year than by having an award-winning float in America’s most iconic New Year Celebration.

From volunteers who spent hours decorating our float in the days leading up to the Rose Parade, including preparing seeds, nuts, bark and flowers and attaching them to the float, to the staff who worked tirelessly to create an unforgettable experience, and the supporters who lifted us up in cheers, both virtually and in person, thanks to everyone for making this amazing day possible!

Finally, of course, there were our incredible float riders from around the country and right here in Southern California; they were the “superstars” of the Rose Parade, along with their supportive family members. This group of individuals, ages 12 to 68, brought Easterseals’ message Building a More Inclusive Future to life. I was excited to hear from some of the riders afterwards about how they connected with members of the crowd all along the parade route. Together, we realized how meaningful it was for parade watchers with a disability to see another person like themselves riding on a float in the Rose Parade.

Float riders taking a selfieTo danny Blake, Reagan Crabtree, Lora Glassman, Ernesto Gutierrez, Matthew Jameson, Howard McBroom, Brian Nguyen, Katie Pena, Blake Scribner, Kaison Shipp-Collier, Sabrina Stafford and Sophia Stafford, I say thank you on behalf of Easterseals for demonstrating to the world how people with disabilities should be included in all events and milestones as well as how Easterseals helps people live, learn, work and, in this case, play in their local communities!

Our 100 Anniversary Celebration is off to a great start and I’m looking forward to more Easterseals celebrations and milestones throughout 2019 and beyond!


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  1. John Garrisom Says:

    Congratulations Easter Seals of Southern California on launching Easter Seals’ 100th anniversary with a grand float in the Rose Bowl Parade. As the Easter Seals national exec from 1978-1990, I take great pride in ESSC and the programs they are undertaking for people with disabilities. Mark, you continue to be a great leader!

  2. Ginger Judge Says:

    Congratulations to all — what a way to start the 100th year. It has been my pleasure to be with local, state, and national Easter Seals for over 47+ years from Florida. It will be a year to remember for sure!!!!

  3. Carrie brooks Says:

    Amazing work.

  4. Gerardo Gomez Says:

    Thank you all for your participation in the parade of roses. The message that you presented to the world, made me feel very proud to work for Easter Seals, and help people improve their quality of life. Greetings from Easter Seals-Child First Program of Greenville, North Carolina.

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