The CHOC Walk in the Park is more than a fundraiser and celebration of healing. For many families, this annual event is a chance to cherish the memory of a child. In solidarity, CHOC has created “Walking for a Hero,” a program to honor the children who have passed away and give their families special hero capes to commemorate the bravery that extended throughout their short but impactful lives.
The cape colors were inspired by Carter Ankeny, a former CHOC patient. One month before his 5th birthday, Carter was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a rare type of cancer. His family spent much of their time dedicated to Carter’s healing, and CHOC became a home-away-from-home. After years of treatment, Carter’s condition suddenly worsened.
Even on the darkest day of their lives, the Ankenys remained grateful for the support they received from the community they had built within CHOC.
“I remember how many people came to see us on the day he passed,” remembers Carter’s mom, , Jamie. “Nurses, doctors, volunteers —everyone that we interacted with. They didn’t have to come, but they did. We’re so lucky to have such an incredible hospital so close to us.”
The “Walking for a Hero” program became one of the many ways the Ankenys celebrate Carter and support other families who have experienced loss.
“All we want to do is share our story,” says Jamie. “We want more people to know Carter’s name and more people to recognize CHOC. We also want to spotlight childhood cancer research, so we won’t have any more outcomes like Carter’s.”
Carter’s dad, Tim, agrees.
“We’re all for anything that keeps his memory alive,” he says.
During this year’s CHOC Walk, thousands of families will walk through the Disneyland® Resort with a purpose: some to encourage, some to remember, all to honor their heroes. And once again, we will walk in memory of Carter and other brave children and honor their memories with “hero capes” as a symbol of unity for the many families walking in memory of a loved one. Through this program, we’ll raise vital support and awareness so that more patients and families in our community can find the healing, hope and comfort they deserve.
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