Thank you CHOC Walk Participants!

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An early CHOC Walk
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Me and a young CHOC Walk-er in 2010

One of the most fun CHOC Children’s events is the CHOC Walk in the Park – and I want to thank the thousands of folks who have participated in this annual event through the years.

It warms my heart to see about 15,000 people strolling through the Disneyland Resort while celebrating CHOC patients’ bravery; thank CHOC doctors, nurses and staff; and raise funds for the hospital.

I love seeing the walkers gather in the early morning, energized by a common mission to support CHOC. Walkers organize into teams and wear special shirts and carry signs. Babies ride in strollers, and people have a blast winding their way through Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.

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Me with a CHOC Walk team in 2007

It’s truly a sight to behold, and I am grateful to all who have participated and will continue to do so.

Speaking of which, this year’s walk is Oct. 12. Have you formed a team yet? Learn more about the walk and how to sign up here.

And don’t forget to stretch!

Choco Bear’s First Portrait

Disney illustrator Bob Moore with a CHOC patient.
Disney illustrator Bob Moore with a CHOC patient.

One of the coolest things to happen to me since I started hanging around CHOC Children’s is getting my portrait professionally drawn.

Through the decades, a couple different versions of my likeness have been featured at CHOC, but the most special is the original drawing created by Disney artist Bob Moore.

More than 50 years ago, Bob first drew my portrait, expertly capturing my happy smile and arm bandage.

“I didn’t want to make him a scary bear for the kids, and I thought the bandage would be cute, something the children would remember,” he said. “The bandage was placed on the left arm, to be closest to the heart.”

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Choco’s original look

The Disney connection should come as no surprise given that Walt Disney served on CHOC’s original board of directors. And the influence is pretty visible in my original portrait: Do those ears remind you of anyone else you might know?

According to Bob’s biography on the official Disney fan club website, he first joined Disney in 1940 as an illustrator apprentice. Later, Bob created promotional images for Disney movies and theme parks.

And fittingly for his work with CHOC, Bob was also an M.D. – well, sort of.

He was the only Disney artist to have these initials added after his last name. They stand for “mouse drawer.”

Continuing Walt’s Legacy

Years before she even thought of having a family, Bev Kavanagh was a member of the CHOC Glass Slipper Guild. At fundraising events, she listened to mothers give testimonials about the care their children had received at CHOC Children’s. Their stories were so moving, Bev often found herself in tears—never thinking she’d become one of them.

What started as a routine check-up in the pediatrician’s office quickly became an emergency trip to CHOC to see a heart surgeon. At only four days old, Bev’s daughter Audrey was diagnosed with coarctation of the aorta, a serious congenital heart condition. A section of the baby’s aorta was abnormally narrow, and her heart could not pump blood to her extremities. Audrey needed surgery, and she needed it quickly.

“It was like stepping into someone else’s world,” Bev said. “But I already knew how wonderful CHOC was because I had been supporting them.”

Audrey had surgery and spent more than a week in the CHOC Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Bev and her husband, Chris, will never forget how caring and comforting the CHOC team was during the most stressful time of their lives.

“The nurses, social workers and everyone was so very accommodating, even when we were there in the wee hours of the morning,” Bev said. “They openly expressed their concern for us. They made us feel that they were going to take the best care of our child.”

Since that lifesaving surgery on her tiny heart, Audrey has only required annual checkups with her cardiologist.  And every October, you will find the entire Kavanagh family at the annual CHOC Walk In the Park at the Disneyland Resort—it’s a family tradition.  “We will never forget CHOC,” Bev said. “The staff and the technology saved Audrey’s life, and we will be eternally grateful.”

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Disneyland Resort Donates $5 Million To “Change CHOC, Change The World”

ar-2012-disneyland-resort-donatesDisney has been an integral part of CHOC Children’s history since the very beginning.  Walt Disney, himself, championed the need for a children’s hospital in Orange County as an executive committee member. For more than 40 years, Disney Cast Members, VoluntEars, executives and beloved characters have contributed funds, time and tenderness to enhance our environment of healing.

From designing the original Choco Bear to hosting our largest annual fundraiser, CHOC Walk in The Park, Disney is interwoven into our hospital’s history.  In February, the Disneyland Resort contributed $5 million to the “Change CHOC, Change the World” campaign.  This generous gift, which has helped push our $125 million campaign past the $100 million milestone, includes sponsorship of a Disney-designed, interactive lobby experience for the new seven-story tower.

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  • Choco Bear’s First Portrait
    One of the coolest things to happen to me since I started hanging around CHOC Children’s is getting my portrait professionally drawn. Through the decades, a couple different versions of my likeness have ...
  • Choco, A Treasured Part of CHOC’s History…and Disney’s?
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Choco, A Treasured Part of CHOC’s History…and Disney’s?

It’s CHOC Walk time again! And as we anxiously wait for Sunday’s festivities, we can’t help but reflect upon the long-standing relationship between CHOC Children’s and our CHOC Walk host and presenting sponsor, the Disneyland Resort.

Did you know that Choco Bear, the beloved mascot for CHOC, was born on the drawing board of artist Bob Moore at Disneyland? Disneyland had volunteered to help create a logo long before CHOC ever opened. Choco was first designed as a two dimensional logo, and through the years evolved into a three dimensional character.

The history of these organizations, two Orange County staples, goes way back. Walt Disney first formed a bond with the hospital in 1960, when he was appointed as one of the founding members of CHOC’s executive council. Decades later, the support continues with Disneyland Resort President George A. Kalogridis serving on CHOC’s board of directors, and most recently, a $5 million donation from the Disneyland Resort to CHOC’s comprehensive fund-raising campaign.

Choco Bear and CHOC Children’s President and CEO, Kimberly Chavalas Cripe stand in the new main lobby of CHOC Children’s Hospital, after a key ceremony in Sept. commemorating substantial completion of the new tower, set to open in Spring 2013.

Choco, however, is perhaps one of the most nostalgic treasures in the history that the two organizations share.

Today, Choco is recognized wherever he goes and continues to be the comforting and lovable mascot to all of the patients and families CHOC is privileged to serve, and the entire community.

Related articles:

  • Thank you CHOC Walk Participants!
    One of the most fun CHOC Children’s events is the CHOC Walk in the Park – and I want to thank the thousands of folks who have participated in this ...
  • Choco Bear’s First Portrait
    One of the coolest things to happen to me since I started hanging around CHOC Children’s is getting my portrait professionally drawn. Through the decades, a couple different versions of my likeness have ...
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Support CHOC, Form Your Own CHOC Walk Team!

Guest blogger, Lisa Robertson, author of the Babes in Disneyland blog and book, and mommy of three, shares her tried and true tips on how to start a CHOC Walk team.

Last year, I laced up my sneakers and walked in the twentieth annual CHOC Walk in the Park held at the Disneyland Resort. It was my first walk and I decided to go for it by not just participating in the walk but by forming and leading a team of walkers.

Whether you are a first-time walker or a long-time CHOC Children’s supporter, forming a team is a great way to become involved in the walk. In order to form my team and raise money for CHOC, I reached out to friends, family members and the readers of my blog and very quickly formed a team of almost 20 walkers who raised more than $2,200.

This year, my team currently has nine registered walkers and we are on track to raise $1,000 and maybe more. If you or someone you know are thinking about forming a team for the CHOC Walk in the Park, here are my top tips for managing your team:

1. Recruit and raise money using social media. I use Twitter and Facebook to reach out to those I know and those I don’t to let them know about my efforts.
2. Get creative! Last year, my youngest son and I created the video below to help raise money for our CHOC Walk efforts:

3. Keep your team members up to date with frequent emails or create a special Facebook event or group page with the latest on your group’s meet-up the morning of the walk, check-in information and lodging information for those who are not local. A page is also a great place for your team to discuss whether or not you want to create signs, shirts or hats for the walk or designate a place to meet up and have breakfast after the walk is over.
4. Encourage members who are local to the check-in for the event in person. If all of your members cannot check-in ahead of time, be sure to set a deadline for each of your team member’s $50 pledges so that they are all paid before you or a member of your team checks in for everyone.
5. Set a meeting spot for your team for the morning of the race and bring something to identify your group. Last year, I brought a huge bundle of red balloons. In theory, this was a great idea…except for the fact that a lot of other groups brought red balloons as well. This year, I’ll be bringing a sign and balloons.

Walking for CHOC is very important to me because I believe in the amazing work done at CHOC and take great comfort in knowing that should my children ever need the expertise of CHOC’s talented doctors, nurses, surgeons or other specialists, that they will be there at the ready. CHOC provides families hope and comfort and patients the opportunity to still feel like kids while dealing with the very adult issues of being sick.

If you are looking for a fun team to walk with at the CHOC Walk in the Park, I happily invite you to join my team, Babes In Disneyland. If you still aren’t sure if the CHOC Walk is right for you, check out my team’s video from last year!

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