Happy 50th Anniversary, CHOC!

The moment I’ve been awaiting for nearly a year now is just days away: Oct. 5, CHOC Children’s 50th anniversary.choco anniversary sign

As I spent the last 50 weeks gearing up for this special day, I met so many wonderful people who help make CHOC special: its patients and families, staff, physicians, volunteers, community supporters and more.

I also realized that CHOC, after 50 years of care, is truly part of the fabric of Orange County.

I think you’d have a hard time finding someone in these parts who hasn’t somehow been affected by CHOC. Possibly they, a friend or family member received care here. Perhaps they or a loved one once worked or volunteered here. And maybe they have given to CHOC, either through participating in the CHOC Walk or by making a donation.

No matter the connection, they are are a welcomed and valued part of the CHOC family. And I hope you all will join with me in acknowledging this special milestone.

We have a lot to celebrate: Since 1964, CHOC has nurtured, advanced and protected the health and well-being of children through innovative care and state-of-the-art facilities. What started as a 62-bed children’s hospital – the first in Orange County – has grown into a pediatric health care system serving multiple counties. CHOC’s rapid growth in size and community impact should be of no surprise, given its leadership and steadfast commitment to defining the future of pediatric medicine.

CHOC has evolved a lot through the last half century. And while the hospital is proud of its rich past, CHOC’s focus is on the future. I can’t wait to see what it does in the next 50 years to continue giving children bright futures in Orange County and beyond.

I hope you’ve enjoyed following my gratitude tour. This may be my final post, but the celebration can continue. Share your special CHOC memory or anniversary congratulations on social media by using the hashtag #thxCHOC.

Thank you CHOC Walk Participants!

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

One of the most fun CHOC 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.

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’s Gratitude Tour: The Greatest Hits

Choco Pillow Framed_square
This Choco Bear pillow was placed inside the 1964 time capsule. Read the blog post to see what else was included

When I began my gratitude tour last October to help celebrate CHOC’s 50th anniversary, I had no idea that I’d meet so many cool people and see so much fun stuff.

I’ve had a blast making my way around the hospital, meeting new people and blogging about my experiences! And even better, once my 50-week tour ends next month, I’ll always have these posts to read again and remember all these awesome times.

Here’s a look at some of my favorite posts from this past year:

CHOC Campus 1964
Here’s CHOC in its early days. Read this post to learn how the hospital campus has evolved in 50 years.

Sing-a-long: The Choco Bear Song: Did you know I have my very own song? Read this post to learn the lyrics and sing along with me.

CHOC Children’s Campus: Then and Now: This post was a blast from the past! Read to learn about how CHOC’s campus has changed in the last half century.

Choco Bear’s Evolving Style: I’ve had quite a few looks since 1964. This post shows photographs of yours truly throughout the years.

Inside CHOC’s 1964 Time Capsule: CHOC staff hid a time capsule to commemorate the hospital’s opening in 1964. Read this post to see what was buried inside.  

Inside CHOC’s 1993 Time Capsule: This post gave an inside look at what CHOC tucked inside its second time capsule.

During my tour, I’ve also met many really neat people. Let me introduce you to some of the new friends I made this year:

Meet Parker, one of my new friends I met this year. Read this post to learn more about the graduate from CHOC’s Small Baby Unit.

Parker: Meet Parker, a graduate of CHOC’s Small Baby Unit, a special part of the neonatal intensive care unit dedicated to the care of micro-preemies. When we first met, she had just celebrated her first birthday.

Bill: Bill received treatment for leukemia at CHOC in the 1970s, and went on to become a hospital chaplain in Orange County.

Josh: This young man was treated at CHOC for childhood allergies and asthma. Josh was so inspired that he became a pediatrician and performed his residency here at CHOC.

Meet Amy and Emily, two sisters who were treated at CHOC.

Amy and Emily: These ladies are sisters who both underwent treatment at the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s. They are both very accomplished and so inspiring.

You can check out more posts like these from my gratitude tour at choc.org/thxchoc and look for more in coming weeks. We still have some more time until CHOC’s big day on Oct. 4, so you can bet I’ll be making the most of it.

Thank you for reading!


Thank You, Angels!

CHOC Children’s has been lucky to have a longstanding relationship with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

We’ll celebrate this partnership at CHOC Night at Angel Stadium on Sept. 20 – and you can you can join in! Purchase discounted tickets and enjoy pregame festivities featuring CHOC patients, physicians and yours truly.

The CHOC-Angels partnership goes back to the hospital’s early days. In fact, CHOC played a special role in the first game ever played at Angel Stadium in Anaheim after its April 1966 opening.

CHOC’s first patient, Ken Spicer, was invited at age 15 to break in the brand-new pitcher’s mound and throw the first ball.

In this touching video, Ken recalls the special experience.

Thank You, Nursing Mothers!

Another group of people I am extremely grateful for are the community’s nursing mothers, who can also help the babiesCHOC_Breast_Milk_bank receiving care at CHOC.

Under CHOC’s breast milk donation service, women can donate their extra breast milk in the name of CHOC to help premature and sick babies.

Oftentimes, women who give birth prematurely have difficulty nursing, so donations help ensure infants in CHOC’s neonatal intensive care unit have access to breast milk. This is an excellent way for women with extra milk to help ensure babies have bright futures.

The program allows women to pump milk at home, freeze it and send it to a third-party company for processing and safety testing. After it’s pasteurized and standardized, the milk gets sent to CHOC.

On behalf of CHOC physicians and nurses, I thank the mothers who help care for the hospital’s tiniest patients in their own special way.

Learn more about how you can contribute to CHOC’s breast milk donation program.