Insider Tips from CHOC Walk Team Captains

You’ve gathered your family and friends, fundraised for the betterment of CHOC Children’s patients, shared your personal reasons for wanting to give back to CHOC, and now the morning of CHOC Walk in the Park is approaching. Keep in mind these tried and true tips from some of our longstanding CHOC Walk teams:

Fundraising tips

  • Remember that in fundraising, every dollar counts in making a difference. Have fun while raising money for the children. – Team Hope
  • We recommend teaming up with a CHOC Guild. The Littlest Angel Guild in Yorba Linda/Anaheim Hills gave us a lot of help and guidance. It will also give you a chance to meet more people with a common goal to give back to CHOC. It’s also great to have a corporate sponsor. We are so lucky and grateful for Hill Brothers Chemical Company and their generosity. Hill Brothers Chemical Company has supported Miranda, our family, The Littlest Angel Guild, and CHOC since 2009. – Team Miranda
  • We’ve had success with bake sales and Dining for Dollars, where we partner with local restaurants who will donate a portion of proceeds on a certain night toward our CHOC Walk team’s fundraising goal. –Team IronJax
  • Get the word out and be creative! Make a list of everyone you know and send a personalized email inviting them to support your team. Hold garage sales, lemonade stands and bake sales. Save up money by recycling bottles and cans throughout the year. Hold an open house boutique where vendors come together to sell their items and donate a portion of their proceeds to your team. Most importantly, keep at it and don’t get discouraged! Every dollar raised is one dollar closer to your goal. It all adds up! –Team Robby Batman Gomez
  • Sending creative emails that include personal photos to your network go a long way. I send a save the date out about two months ahead of the walk, and remind people the reasons why we walk, thank all the past walkers from our team, and give an update on funds we’ve raised in the past. During the fundraising process, I send an email to my team with a video slideshow showing Mac’s year. I do this to share what a wonderful, fulfilled life he has because of CHOC. –Team MAC

Participant check-in/Packet pickup

  • One thing that helped tremendously when picking up other team members’ wristbands and shirts, was having their email, phone number and shirt size on hand. I picked up 14 walker packets and having the emails ready to go was a huge help. – Team Brave Boyle
  • If you’re picking up for other people, just make sure they have the $85 or more in their account in order to get their wristband for them. It’s also best to distribute wristbands to your friends or teammates BEFORE the walk day as it will be chaotic and people may be late. – Team Brave Boyle
  • Don’t forget if you signed up to have your shirt shipped you don’t need to go to check in. Your shirt and wristband will arrive the week before the Walk. If you don’t receive anything, call our office at 714-509-4000. –Team Kailualani
  • If you have cash or check donations, it helps to enter them online in your fundraising headquarters on chocwalk.org to speed up the check-in process! –Team Kailualani

Team spirit

  • Have fun with your team! Our team makes signs to show our team pride and support for CHOC, and we all dress in a theme. –Team CHOC Children’s HR Walking for Noah
  • Many teams make banners and signs for their CHOC patients to show their support and why they walk – no idea is too small! -Team Torres
  • It’s a great idea to get your kids involved in the Walk to teach them about philanthropy and volunteering at an early age. -Team Torres

Event day tips

  • Before our first CHOC Walk, we got good advice about meeting as a group somewhere outside the park, in Downtown Disney. As a newbie that was a GREAT help. – Team Brave Boyle
  • On the day of the walk, allow extra time to park and find your way to the front of Disneyland as the trams are not running. – Team Hope
  • If you arrive late, you won’t be able to walk the full CHOC Walk route and will be redirected to a certain entrance based on your timing, so don’t be late! The opening ceremony is at 6:15 a.m., the Walk begins at 6:30 a.m., and the entrance cutoff time is 7:30 a.m. – Team Kailualani
  • Consider getting a hotel within walking distance to skip out on the traffic and enjoy a fun night around town before the CHOC Walk. Some nearby hotels offer special rates for CHOC Walk participants. Afterward, don’t try and exit toward Harbor, you’ll feel like a salmon trying to swim upstream. –Team IronJax
  • Give your team a timeline for CHOC Walk, consisting of:
    • Recommended time to leave the house the morning of CHOC Walk, and explain why you’ll need extra time due to the size of the crowd.
    • What time to meet at your team’s chosen meeting area.
    • What time you plan on entering the park.
    • Contact information for other team members in case someone has a hard time locating your team the morning of CHOC Walk.
    • Places where you plan on taking a group picture during the route.
    • Location to meet and regroup at the end of the route. We usually do a giant group thank you, and I designate an area because we can get split up during the route. –Team Justin’s Helpers
  • Don’t forget you can purchase discounted Disney tickets AFTER the walk with your CHOC Walk wristband. There will be ticket carts available in Downtown Disney near ESPN Zone, as well as the ticket booths in the esplanade, and you will need to have your wristband on in order to purchase. -Team Torres
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CHOC Walk in the Park 2017: Why I Walk – Team Brave Boyle

Lizzie Boyle is mom to CHOC Children’s patient and cancer warrior Ella, age 6 and serves as team caption for CHOC Walk’s Team Brave Boyle

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There are many ways that grateful families can support CHOC. Why do you participate in CHOC Walk every year?

Walking was the most crucial part in Ella’s recovery. As she braved her 14 rounds of chemotherapy, multiple surgeries, and many scans and procedures under anesthesia, I knew as a mom that it was important to get her moving. CHOC encouraged us as parents to be active participants in Ella’s recovery, and how crucial it was that she must get out of bed and walk the halls of the hematology/oncology unit to survive. The CHOC Walk is a direct reflection of what happens inside that unit at CHOC. Get up, survive, and walk alongside people who you may never know by name. We learned that the power of being together, all for the purpose of knowing someone in their lives was affected by this hospital, is a tremendous feeling.

What inspired you to become part of CHOC Walk? How long have you been participating?

The CHOC Walk was always been something we knew about within our community, however not until my daughter was a patient herself did we walk. Last year, my sister Caitlin and brother-in-law Rhett took it upon themselves to create Team Brave Boyle, and by the grace of God and many other hands we were able to walk that day. Some members of our team have participated for years in support of the care their own children received years ago, but much of our team was experiencing it for the first time. The phrase I heard the most from our team that day was, “We will do this every year. This is amazing.”

What is your favorite memory from a previous CHOC Walk?

Well that is a tough one to answer! I will say it was when we were in a holding pattern waiting to walk down Main Street. The Brave Boyle team was stretched out five people wide and at least 40 feet back. I looked ahead of us and saw a group of our oncology nurses; I looked behind me and saw my sisters; I looked around me and saw Ella’s classmates sprinkled around with their parents. To see the sacrifices that so many of our supporters made to be there that day was humbling,  and I felt so sad that Ella wasn’t able to walk with us that day. Then I looked to my right and there was a large group holding a sign for their daughter who is now an angel. I quickly became overwhelmed with emotion. Just then, over the Disneyland speaker, “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift started playing. The entire group began to sing, and it brought me back to day one of Ella’s treatment when we started the tradition of singing that song for her. It was exactly what we needed at that very moment.

choc walk

What would you say to a community member to encourage them to participate in their first CHOC Walk?

It is an experience that allows you to celebrate all life, and your support system—the child, the sibling, the grandma…the people who hold us up. The day is beyond a fundraiser, it changes your entire outlook on what a hospital represents.

What inspires you most about the care being delivered at CHOC?

In our 12 months living off and on at CHOC, my daughter walked onto that 5th floor each time to be greeted as if, ‘Welcome Home.’ In the same respect, days later as we were discharged, they celebrated, praised her, and said, ‘Say hi to your sister!’ They knew Ella Grace Boyle, and every 5-year-old should feel that love no matter what they are facing.

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CHOC Walk in the Park 2017: Meet Team Hope

By Ashlie Wenrick, mom of CHOC patient Noah

I was inspired to become part of the CHOC Walk in the Park when I was in junior high, as a way I could help children in my own community who were  at CHOC Children’s. I did all I could to raise money, made calls to family and friends, wrote letters and went door-to-door asking for donations. That’s where my passion for raising money for CHOC all started and every year my parents and I would participate in the CHOC Walk.

My son Noah was born in 2014 at St. Joseph’s, right next to CHOC. Nine hours after he was born, a nurse noticed something was off during a routine check-up, and soon we were being sent to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). It took a few days to determine exactly what was wrong. Noah was diagnosed with a lung infection and stayed in the NICU for almost two weeks.

Having participated in the CHOC Walk for so many years, I knew that CHOC was an amazing hospital, but I didn’t think I would ever be on the receiving end of their care. Being a walker for so many years and then having your own child be a patient at CHOC can be very emotional! CHOC did everything they could to make us feel comfortable when we were there and their staff was amazing!

choc walk
Meet Noah, the inspiration behind CHOC Walk in the Park’s Team Hope

In 2014 my husband and I created Team HOPE in honor of Noah. It started off as a small team, but last year Team Hope had around 90 walkers and raised more than $16,000 for CHOC. I never imagined Team HOPE would be such a big team! . Thanks to CHOC,  Noah is now a happy, healthy 3-year-old and for that we will continue walking for CHOC helping raising money.

My favorite memory from all CHOC walks is when you are standing on Main Street, waiting with thousands of walkers getting ready to start the CHOC Walk. I love looking around and seeing how excited everyone is and thinking all of us came together to help raise money for CHOC and knowing there are some amazing stories on why money is raised is an amazing feeling!

A few tips for first time CHOC Walkers: remember that in fundraising, every dollar counts in making a difference. On the day of the walk, allow extra time to park and find your way to the front of Disneyland as the trams are not running. Last but not least, have fun while raising money for the children.

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Meet the CHOC Follies Cast: 20-year Veterans of the Show

Now in its 20th year, the CHOC Follies has become one of Orange County’s most popular fund and friend-raising events. With a cast and crew of more than 100 enthusiastic members, all singing and dancing to raise much needed funds for CHOC Children’s, this original musical production is made up of one-of-a-kind individuals all coming together to benefit CHOC. Today, meet Diane, Mia and Skipper Tim, three beloved cast members who have been part of the show from the very beginning.

Q: How did you get started as a CHOC Follies cast member?

Diane: I was one of the first people to join the inaugural CHOC Follies show. I belonged to a tap dancing group, and the CHOC Follies founder Gloria Zigner wanted me to recruit my class members. Because I’ve been in it from the beginning, I’ve been able to see how the show has changed and evolved over the years.

CHOC Follies
CHOC Follies cast member Diane

Mia: I was singing at a fundraising event for CHOC, and Gloria approached me afterwards and shared her vision of an event that would eventually become CHOC Follies. Although most cast members don’t have a background in musical theater, I did, and the rest is history.

Skipper Tim: My boss at the time received an invitation to participate in the first CHOC Follies, and I went on his behalf. I had a history in community theater, and I’ve been part of the CHOC Follies ever since!

Q: How do you balance the time commitment of rehearsals and fundraising efforts of cast members?

Diane: The directors have rehearsals down to a science and they know how many weeks it will take to learn certain aspects of the show. Different groups practice at different times and the directors are respectful of our other commitments. The cast is like a family!

Mia: Directors work around our schedule for rehearsal calls. It’s important to attend as many rehearsals as possible so that we can present a quality performance to our donors.  A plus to the time spent there is that great friendships are formed among cast members.

CHOC Follies
CHOC Follies cast member Mia, pictured center as the good witch in a past performance of The Wizard of OC.

Skipper Tim: We rehearse for up to eight weeks prior to the show, but the commitment is minimal compared to how it benefits the community. As for selling tickets, as a process server, when I’ve served papers for example, I’ve asked “Have you heard of the Follies? Want to buy tickets?” I’ll do whatever it takes!

Q: What does CHOC mean to you?

Diane: I had always known about CHOC but hadn’t known anyone that needed to be treated here. I was a guild member before a CHOC Follies cast member, and I love giving back to the hospital. Just to know that you’re giving so much back to the children is very heartwarming.

Mia: When I first got involved with CHOC Follies I took a tour of the hospital and that touched my heart. Seeing the kids and children that benefit from treatment at CHOC made me want to be part of raising money for the hospital. Ever since then, I just enjoy doing it so much that I can’t imagine not taking part. I’ve been blessed with healthy children and grandchildren so I’ve never had to experience my family being treated there. Through Follies I have come to understand the impact CHOC has on families, and it has touched my heart.

Skipper Tim: I come from a family in healthcare- my mom was a registered nurse and volunteer army nurse at end of WW1, and my dad was a gastroenterologist. I’ve been around the medical field my entire life, and to see the work being done at CHOC is just outstanding.

CHOC Follies
CHOC Follies cast member Skipper Tim

Q: What is your favorite memory from 20 years of participating in CHOC Follies?

Diane: Having the chance to perform at important venues around Orange County has been very special. It’s fun to remember way back when to the first show and how different our costumes were! The veterans in the cast also love to welcome new cast members.

Mia: The second year of the Follies my daughter Monique was able to participate. The theme was The Wizard of OC, and she was selected to play the lead, and I was the good witch. It was so fun to perform on stage with her in that particular role.

Skipper Tim: I’ve had a lot of great memories; it’s hard to pick just one. I’ve played everything from Scooby Doo to Phyllis Diller, the late actress and comedian. One time on opening night, while on stage and standing on a riser, my line was up, when suddenly my heel got caught on the riser. I almost fell into the audience! The audience thought it was funny and part of the show of course.

Q: Why should the CHOC community attend CHOC Follies?

Diane: The majority of people don’t have a background in musical theater or vocals, but by the end of the show everyone is singing and dancing with the rest of the group. We are giving back to the community by doing something that we love.

Mia: Those supporters who have attended the Follies are always quite surprised at the amount of talent and energy by those in the community who volunteer their time for such a wonderful cause to benefit the precious kids at CHOC. The CHOC Follies is really a ‘fun-raiser.’

Skipper Tim: There are a lot of talented people in the show, from dancers to singers, and they’re all great. The focus is on the kids at CHOC. We’re just the messengers.



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Meet the CHOC Follies Cast: Shawn

Now in its 20th year, the CHOC Follies has become one of Orange County’s most popular fund and friend-raising events. With a cast and crew of more than 100 enthusiastic members, all singing and dancing to raise much needed funds for CHOC Children’s, this original musical production is made up of one-of-a-kind individuals all coming together to benefit CHOC. Today meet Shawn, a 10-year cast member who is participating in weekly rehearsals- despite a recent relocation to northern California.

Q: What prompted your continued Follies participation even when you relocated to San Francisco and work in Mexico?

A: I’ve lived most of my adult life up in Orange County, but recently relocated to San Francisco for work. Follies is very important to me, and I couldn’t imagine missing it. Every year I look forward to the people, the energy of the cast, and having the chance to help kids at CHOC. Fortunately I fly a lot for work, and when I pass by Orange County, I stop off for rehearsals. Some of my best friends in the world I met by participating in Follies, and I stay with them when I am in town for rehearsals.

choc follies
CHOC Follies cast member Shawn, before a past performance.

Q: What goes into being a Follies cast member?

A: The cast spends every Saturday rehearsing for two and a half months leading up to the show. It sounds like a lot and maybe it is, but it doesn’t feel like work to me. Some parts of the cast rehearse on Wednesday evenings as well, but since I have relocated for work, I can’t make mid-week rehearsals. When I was living in Orange County, I was working full time and also going to school at night to study accounting, so I couldn’t make mid-week evening rehearsals. The directors understand that cast members have other obligations and support us.

I got started in the Follies when I was attending a lecture at Newport Beach Public Library 10 years ago. I met the Follies founder, Gloria Zigner, who invited me to a rehearsal, and the rest is history. Gloria’s passion for the Follies and what it does to help the kids at CHOC is so infectious, and that spirit permeates the cast. She has been doing this for 20 years, so it makes the 10 Saturdays I give up every spring seem like nothing.

Q: What does CHOC mean to you?

A:  Some people join the Follies because they have a personal history with CHOC or know someone who has a child that has been treated here. For me it’s a little bit different. I don’t have kids, and outside of people in the cast, I don’t directly know too many people who have needed to go to CHOC. But I adore children and I love my nieces and nephews, and just knowing what CHOC does every day is heartwarming. I have a coworker whose son who was diagnosed with cancer last year, and now he is cancer free.  Participating in the Follies has a more personal meaning this year now that I personally know someone who has received the amazing care that CHOC provides for children and teens in the community.

Q: What would you say to someone considering joining the Follies cast next year?

A: Do it! It will change your life. The people in the cast are such caring people, giving their time and energy. The cast has the biggest hearts and you’re doing it for an amazing cause. You get to help thousands of kids. I don’t sing, dance or act, but I do all of them in the show. You don’t have to a lifelong history in musical theater to be in the Follies.

Q: What is your favorite memory from your 10 years participating in Follies?

A: Being backstage before a show, especially the last show. You spend three months with these people, and you’re all nervous and want the show to go well. It always goes off without a hitch, and when they announce how much money we have raised, there’s just so much love and energy in the air. We are all there for one common cause. People from every background and walk of life come together to support CHOC and it’s a phenomenal feeling.



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