For more than a decade, the Gomez family has held a special place in their hearts for the CHOC Walk in the Park. The beloved event is a particularly special time every year to honor their son, Robby Gomez.
Robby was born in 2001 at a local hospital with a rare form of laryngomalacia, a congenital condition where floppy tissue above the vocal cords falls into the airway opening when an infant breathes in, causing restriction of the airway.
Upon learning about his condition, their baby boy was quickly rushed to CHOC, where he was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and underwent several surgeries, including a tracheotomy, a procedure that opens up the windpipe (trachea) to allow a breathing tube to be inserted to provide an airway.
After a few weeks in the NICU, Robby was finally released to go home. He would occasionally go back to CHOC for care, but otherwise Robby led a typical life with little to no restrictions. As he grew, he was an active, vivacious little boy who participated in sports, played and jumped around like most children.
Tragically in 2006, at age 5, Robby died unexpectedly in his sleep from complications of his condition.
“Robby was an amazing and loving boy, whose strength and positive energy was infectious,” says Robby’s dad, Marty.
Marty and his wife, Julie, knew they had to find a way to give back to CHOC, since CHOC had been there for Robby and their family every step of the way.
“We’ll always be grateful to CHOC. The level of care and compassion that we received was extraordinary and we’re so thankful for the five years CHOC gave us with our son,” Julie says.
When Julie heard about the CHOC Walk, she knew she had to get involved. She formed team Robby “Batman” Gomez in honor of Robby, whose favorite super hero was Batman. The team started off with just a few members – Julie, who is team captain, her mom, and two of Julie’s best friends.
Today, Team Robby “Batman” Gomez has around 30 members, and is one of the top CHOC Walk teams, having raised over $100,000 benefiting CHOC. This year alone, the team has already raised more than $15,000.
“We’re happy to do anything we can for CHOC. The CHOC Walk is such a special, unique opportunity that touches so many lives in our community. You can see the overwhelming compassion of everyone there, whether they are honoring a current patient or a child who has passed on,” Julie explains.
Julie and her friends and family have also held several community fundraisers benefitting CHOC over the years, including car washes, restaurant give backs, and most recently a golf tournament.
The Gomez family, including Robby’s brother and sister, Matthew and Emily, and their friends will always enjoy sharing their little “hero’s” story, especially around CHOC Walk time.
“Robby is our angel. He’s our guiding light, a beacon of goodness, and has forever left an impact on the lives he touched,” Julie says.
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