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Sat. 5/17/03 - Carnival

Celebration of Champions Relay Team
Celebration of Champions - Sponsors and Family
Padres Field
First Major League Game
Our Champion

Saturday 5/17/03
Celebration of Champions! This is an event sponsored by the Children’s Hospital Auxiliary. It’s a wonderful time for the children and their families from the Hem/Onc department. It’s also the largest fundraiser of the year. Last year corporations donated about $400,000.

The first event of the day is a relay race. The first lap is done by a group of bereaved parents each holding a white balloon in honor of their child. Then each child who is currently in treatment runs a section of the track carrying a pretend torch to the next child as a relay. The final lap is run by a group of the long-term survivors. This is a great opportunity to see reasons to be hopeful.

Gammie and Papa Barry brought Jason and the hot rod stroller with them and met Grandma Sue, Les and I at the park. Grandpa Martin also joined us. I’m not sure what Les was more excited about seeing, his daddy or his hot rod.

Each participant is assigned a corporate sponsor and a celebrity sponsor. Our corporate sponsor was Cubic Corporation and they sent two representatives to spend the day with us. We loved getting to know Lijuan and her husband, Phil, and also Pat. They ran the relay with us and just hung out the rest of the day. I think Lijuan really liked to push Les in his hot rod, because she was always volunteering. Thank you both for all your attention and thanks to your company for their support of the Hem/Onc unit. Or celebrity sponsor was Larry Himmel of channel 8 news in San Diego. This was a special treat for Grandpa Martin, Grandma Sue and I because we remember watching Larry’s segments when we first moved down to Fallbrook back in 1987. He was always one of our favorite reporters. Gammie, Papa Barry and Jason were not familiar with him because they have always lived in the Los Angeles broadcast area and never watched San Diego news. Examples of other celebrity sponsors were other local TV and radio personalities, Padres players, Chargers Players, San Diego Spirit Soccer players, Olympians, Pro Racers, and Pro Skateboarders. Oh, and Ronald McDonald himself was there! Les was impressed.

Subway sandwiches provided lunch and then there were a dozen or more booths set up with all sorts of crafts and activities for the kids (and adults) to do and the band Rockola entertained everyone. It was free for the champions and their families. What a great time!

Later that evening, we were invited to the Padres game. Ryan Klesko personally bought 300 tickets for the champions and their families. Also the champions were invited to participate in the pre-game show by going on to the field and lining the first and third base lines. Here they were honored in front of the whole stadium and stayed there until the conclusion of the national anthem. Jason was allowed to accompany Les because Les was so young. Later, we ate hot dogs and bought a Padres batting helmet to add to the “Lids for Les” collection.

Les’ San Diego relatives also came to the game and we enjoyed going over to visit with them. We left before the game was over (the Padres lost to the Atlanta Braves 12-2) and headed home. It was a long day, but well worth the effort. We were able to make contact with another family whose 3 year old daughter has the same diagnosis as Les and also lives in Murrieta. We’ll have to follow up with them in the near future.