Budding pianist gives back to CHOC through piano recital

Lucie, age 13, is no stranger to performing. The budding pianist started playing piano when she was 6 years old, won her first local competition at 7, first international competition at age 9, and currently takes private lessons in addition to attending a performing arts school.

Earlier this year, Lucie’s piano teacher encouraged her to perform in a solo recital for the first time. Lucie’s first thought wasn’t about which songs she would perform or if she would feel nervous on stage — it was about turning the recital into a benefit concert.

Lucie had briefly been a patient in CHOC Children’s emergency department when she was a baby, but her connection to CHOC runs deeper. Her mom Carolyn has been a clinical pharmacist at CHOC for a decade.

“Lucie has grown up hearing about exciting new treatments we’re continuously offering at CHOC, the new technologies we get in the pharmacy, and the important work done for children in our community,” Carolyn says.

Like many people in her community, Lucie has known family members and friends who have received care at CHOC as well.

All of that made Lucie’s decision to choose CHOC as a beneficiary of her concert an easy one.

“I’m grateful to CHOC for treating my friends, relatives, neighbors, and classmates, and I wanted to give back. And this was the perfect opportunity,” Lucie says.

Lucie’s sign to thank recital attendees who donated to her CHOC fundraiser.

Her decision to give back to CHOC made her mom very proud.

“As much as I wanted Lucie to choose CHOC, I felt it was important for her to choose a non-profit that was close to her heart. So, when she told me she chose CHOC, I was beyond thrilled,” Carolyn says.

Lucie’s concert raised more than $2,000 in support of KidsCARE, a fund that provides unrestricted financial support to meet the greatest needs of the hospital.

Throughout this experience, Lucie has gained a deeper understanding of the importance of giving back, her mom says.

Lucie speaks to her audience before her recital, which she used as a CHOC fundraiser.

“When children learn the importance of philanthropy, it helps instill altruistic values and helps them develop empathy for others,” Carolyn says. “By giving back, they learn they can make a difference in society, even at a young age. This experience reminded Lucie of everything positive in her life. She gained an important lesson in humanity that will be helpful for the rest of her life.”

Lucie hopes to inspire others to give back.

“To any other young person who wants to give back, I would say don’t be intimidated. It may seem overwhelming to start your own fundraiser, but it’s not. It doesn’t have to be this grand event; it could be something as simple as a neighborhood bake sale or lemonade stand,” she says. “Think of an activity you will enjoy doing. Enlist your family members and friends to help out. Take advantage of social media to spread the word about your fundraiser. Regardless of how much you raise in the end, know that what you did is important and makes an impact for the patients at CHOC.”

Start your own CHOC fundraiser

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Rent Choco’s boat and support mental health programs

Enjoy the Southern California weather on Choco’s custom boat and support CHOC’s mental health programs at the same time. A portion of every rental will support these programs, and a generous donor is making waves with a $50,000 matching gift.


For rental information, please visit the Lido Marina Village Electric Boat Rental website at eboatsrental.com to get started and select “Book Now.” Be sure to select the CHOC boat.

You can also sponsor a ride on the boat for a CHOC family dealing with a serious illness or injury. Two-hour vouchers/gift certificates can be purchased at the rental office or online at eboatsrental.com. For a tax-deductible gift, make your gift via check or online donation to CHOC Foundation and designate it towards “CHOC Boat Ride.”

Stay Informed about Mental Health

CHOC Children’s has made the commitment to take a leadership role in meeting the need for more mental health services in Orange County. Sign up today to keep informed about this important initiative.

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Why I support CHOC: One uncle’s story

By Julian Giacobbe, CHOC Children’s supporter

My niece Isabella will be 12 in a couple of months. There will be the mandatory cake and candles, I’m sure, along with family, food, noise, the usual. We will look at those family photos later, and we will all know that there are dozens of people missing from every single picture ― all the doctors and nurses at CHOC who are responsible for our Isabella turning 12 that day ― just like they had a hand in her turning 11 the year before, and 10 before that, and… you get the idea.

As a toddler, Isabella was diagnosed with stage 3 kidney cancer. Today she’s cancer-free. But it wasn’t an easy road in between. For two seemingly unending years, her childhood was spent at CHOC Children’s Hospital in Orange. There were many exams, all kinds of tests, several surgeries, and then some more exams. Even after leaving her hospital room for the last time and finally going back home, there were follow-up visits to CHOC multiple times a week for another year and a half. Throughout it all, it was those fantastic doctors and nurses at CHOC that kept Isabella going, figuratively and literally.

We knew even in the midst of her treatment that this was a unique, life-changing event for our family.  I have so much respect for the staff at CHOC who does amazing work every single day for hundreds of children and their families.

I wanted to give back to CHOC to say thank you for everything they did for my niece. I joined Moustaches for Kids OC (M4KOC), a national community of mustache growers who make up local chapters and raise money for a children’s charity in their area. For 30 days, the chapter’s growers work tirelessly to grow and display mustaches. When asked, “What’s with the stache?” it’s an opportunity to raise awareness and funds for a worthy cause.

Julian shows off his mustache progress halfway through the annual campaign.

This is not just another fundraising effort for me. It’s very personal. My family owes CHOC more than we could ever pay back. When Isabella gives the camera the inevitable eye roll that most 12-year old girls would on their birthday, we know who to thank.

Discover other ways to support CHOC

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Ways to Spread Holiday Joy to CHOC Patients

Illness and injury shouldn’t dim the brightness of the holidays for kids. Help us preserve the magic of childhood – year-round – for our patients by supporting CHOC Children’s the following ways this holiday season:

  • Nordstrom Cares Campaign
    From now until Dec. 24, purchase a $10 giving-tree card at any Orange County Nordstrom or donate to CHOC online.
  • Alex and Ani Give Back
    From now until Dec. 31, you can purchase an Alex and Ani Unicorn Bracelet, and CHOC will receive 20% of that purchase. You can buy online with an Orange County zip code or purchase at the Fashion Island, Irvine Spectrum, and Brea stores.
  • Ace Hardware Holiday Round Up
    Round up the cost your purchases to benefit CHOC at any ACE Hardware store in Orange County until Christmas.
  • Panda Express Promotion
    Orange County locations will be collecting donations to CHOC through Dec. 31.
  •  Coca-Cola
    Now through Jan. 1, 2019, Coca-Cola will donate $1 to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals for each personalized holiday-themed bottle of Coke or Coke Zero Sugar purchased at www.CokeStore.com.
  • Amazon Smile
    Link your Amazon account to CHOC with AmazonSmile, and CHOC will receive 0.5% of each order!
  • CHOC Kids’ Cards
    Give one-of-a-kind greetings that give back this holiday season. Purchase patient created holiday cards. Shop now.
  • CHOC Shop
    By keeping kids healthy, we can keep the magic of childhood alive and well. Show your support by purchasing CHOC branded merchandise. Proceeds benefit kids at CHOC Children’s hospital.
  • Donate
    Give a one time, monthly or annual gift or make a tribute donation in honor of a special person or occasion. Donate online.

Make a donation now


Big Sister Gives Back to Honor CHOC Children’s

Lily’s big sister, Makenna loved her before she was even born. She was actually the one who chose Lily’s name. Their bond only grew stronger when Lily was born with a rare chromosomal abnormality requiring specialized treatment and extra help at home.

Lily and Makenna
Lily and Makenna

“Even though Lily is different than Makenna and her brother, Ethan, they just see her as their sister,” says mom, Danielle. “They’ve helped Lily learn sign language and practice pronouncing words.”

Lily’s entire family has been involved in her care from day one. Makenna, age 11, would regularly tag along to Lily’s physical and occupational therapy sessions. She was keen to learn how she could help take care of her sister. She watched closely as physical therapist Cathy Lopez taught Lily how to move her body, and occupational therapist Lauren Newhouse taught her how to eat solid food (her favorite is avocado).

Seeing the way CHOC’s rehabilitation services team cared for Lily and the progress she made in therapy inspired Makenna to give back.

Makenna’s fundraiser

When Makenna’s school hosted a fair for students to showcase causes important to them, she chose to honor CHOC. She and a few friends watched YouTube videos to learn origami and created dozens of animal and emoji-themed bookmarks. She quickly sold out of them and donated the proceeds to the rehabilitation department at CHOC.

Lily backpack

“Raising money for CHOC is the least I can do to thank them for taking such good care of my sister,” Makenna says. “Whenever we are there for an appointment, all the doctors, nurses, therapists and security guards are so nice to us.”

Organizing this fundraiser has inspired Makenna to continue her philanthropic streak.

“It was feels good to do it and it was so easy. It makes me want to do more to raise more money for CHOC,” she says.

Lily and Makenna present a Makenna’s fundraiser proceeds to physical therapist Cathy Lopez.

Lily’s diagnosis and early days

When Danielle and her husband, David, found out they were expecting their third child, they were thrilled. A few months into Danielle’s pregnancy, a blood test showed that Lily had Turner Syndrome, a genetic condition affecting a female’s growth and fertility. That turned out to be a false positive, but a follow-up amniocentesis correctly diagnosed Lily with Mosaic Trisomy 12, a rare chromosomal abnormality about which not much is known.

Lily was born full-term via C-section at a local hospital. Immediately after birth she had trouble breathing and turned blue, and she was quickly whisked away to that hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Lily needed a ventilator to help her breathe. She also required use of a CPAP, also known as continuous positive airway pressure, which helped keep her airway open. Danielle pumped her breastmilk so Lily’s care team could nourish her through a feeding tube.

Just outside the hospital, CHOC geneticist Dr. Neda Zadeh was starting to make her way home for the day when she heard about Lily’s condition.

“Dr. Zadeh was on her way out, but she turned around and came back to the hospital to run more tests and get a better idea of what was affecting her,” Danielle recalls. “Dr. Zadeh is amazing.”

In the first few days of Lily’s life, her parents weren’t sure if she would make it or not. When she was 3 days old, she was transferred to CHOC’s NICU for a higher level of care.

Lily spent the next 24 days in the NICU. When she learned how to breathe and eat on her own, she was ready to go home for the first time.

While the family spent much of their daughter’s first month in the hospital, NICU nurses made sure the family didn’t miss out on their first holiday together — Father’s Day. With her nurses’ help, Lily created a special Father’s Day craft for David using her footprints.

These days, Lily sees a mighty brigade of pediatric specialists at CHOC on a regular basis. Although not much is known about her Mosaic Trisomy 12, her care team remains fully committed to ensuring she is safe and healthy. In addition to Dr. Zadeh, Lily is under the care of neurosurgeon Dr. William Loudon, endocrinologist Dr. Timothy Flannery, and otolaryngologist Dr. Nguyen Pham. She also sees a neuro-ophthalmologist at UC Irvine.

Danielle is proud of the progress Lily has made during therapy at CHOC and seeing how that progress sparked Makenna’s giving spirit makes her proud as well.


“Makenna probably doesn’t realize this, but Cathy and Lauren at CHOC really cared for our entire family, not just Lily,” Danielle says. “The entire rehabilitation team at CHOC was incredibly supportive to our entire family. They were the weekly and sometimes daily reminders that we could do it. They impacted our entire family in a way that words simply cannot express. When we look back on Lily’s first years, they are in our memories and always will be!”

Start your own fundraising campaign

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