Carrying the World on Our Shoulders

"The world exploded in my garage. Granted, it was a half-finished, eight-foot in diameter globe made from a weather balloon and paper mache. Within that oozing pile of rubber, soaked paper, and wet flour-water glue contained hours of labor and our PIH float for our Fourth of July parade. The pieces of the world were surprisingly heavy when I gathered them into a trash bag." 

Read more of Jackie McVay's take on an exciting 4th of July Parade for Partners In Health:

Bainbridge Island holds a contest in its annual Fourth of July Parade: a $1000 prize for the “most humorous” parade float. How in the world do you make global health funny? Laura Van Dyke, PIH Engage Bainbridge Island’s Team Coordinator, along with the superstars of this operation, college juniors Elizabeth von Ruden and Signe Lindquist, struck on the idea of creating a team of PIH global super heroes healing the world. These heroes were adorned with colorful capes and performed a synchronized dance around the huge globe. Since our first globe exploded and we were running out of time, we had to drastically alter our plan. We uncovered a toy company in Oregon that makes satellite image globe beach balls. The beach ball was only six feet in diameter, but we decided that was a reasonable sacrifice.

"PIH doctors, nurses, volunteers, community health workers, and donors try everything to achieve global health equity." 

- Jackie McVay, PIH Engage Bainbridge Island Youth


We had to choose a symbol to stitch onto our superhero capes. We chose a band-aid with a heart in the middle as our insignia. Elizabeth and Signe dyed purple capes from old bed sheets. They stained one sheet with coffee to create the band-aids.  Signe’s mother, Anne Howard-Lindquist, and my mother, Brenda McVay, helped sew them on. When Laura warned Ollie Godfrey, a high school graduate new to volunteering for PIH, that he might have to wear a cape, his response was, “That’s a privilege.”


A PIH Banner is featured at the beginning of the PIH Engage procession, followed by an inflatable globe adorned with a sign reading "Help Us Heal the World." Photo credit Chuck Kirchner

PIH doctors, nurses, volunteers, community health workers, and donors try everything to achieve global health equity. So, no song better represented our cause than “Try Everything” by Shakira. Signe and Elizabeth choreographed a dance for the chorus of the song, ending with a hug around the globe.

The PIH float boasted high schoolers, one child, college students and graduates, and several adults. The dancers in the above video are: Signe Lindquist, Elizabeth von Ruden, Ben Scott, Britt Lindquist, Mary Van Dyke, Nancy Karreman, Trinity Rudolph (7 years old), Emily Mather, Thomas Allen, and Jackie McVay. Video credit Chuck Kirchner

Money was tight so we needed an inexpensive way to transport a giant globe down the street during the parade. Laura’s husband Joe Van Dyke designed and created a simple palanquin made of scrap wood. A team of high school students helped plan an easy carrying method. Jonathan Owen tied the globe down with fishing line. One college sophomore and three high schoolers: Matt Van Dyke, Evan Lisinski, Sawyer Besser, and Morgan Du Bois channeled their strength and carried the globe for the one-mile parade route.

Surrounded by the noise of the Kitsap County Drumline, fancy cars, the marching band, and thousands of people, we waited on a side street for our chance to join the parade. We varied in our dancing abilities, but not in our enthusiasm (I may have crashed into Morgan a few times). We hung a beautiful poster on the globe that read “Help Us Heal The World,” designed by Thomas Allen and recent University of Iowa graduate Emma Van Dyke.


Members of PIH Engage Bainbridge Island Youth dance in a circle with their "doctor" Trinity Rudolph in front of the globe float. Photo credit Chuck Kirchner

We had steep competition, with over one hundred other entries. These consisted of mud-masked mountain bikers, the robotics team (who drove their robots down the street), jump ropers, and gymnasts. Every group threw out candy for the kids. Luckily we had candy as well, thrown by our sign-holders, my parents Brenda and Dave McVay, and high school graduates Ollie Godfrey, Jeremy Knight, and Claire Lunzer. Brother-sister duo Adalynn and Johan Griesser held a PIH banner in front, along with Julia Trivers. Music blasted from a portable speaker carried by our mastermind, Laura. We are still waiting to hear contest results, we are happy with the way it turned out.


"Our float featured young advocates carrying a bouncy plastic world on their shoulders. Every day, Partners In Health carries a world of health care on its shoulders. Both globes were and are on a course to victory. The superheroes are the people who step up, no matter when or where."

- Jackie McVay, PIH Engage Bainbridge Island Youth



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