Coming up next Sunday morning, I will be pounding the pavement for the kids of Miller Children’s Hospital (MCH) here in Long Beach (CA), and I’m taking T with me.
The 2nd Annual iWalk… for Kids takes to the streets this Sunday September 15, 2013. I wrote about my fabulous experience at last year’s inaugural iWalk, where I also pledged that if the walk returned, so would I. Well, I am taking it one step further (farther?) and bringing T with me. Why? Several reasons.
1. T is of an age now that he’s learning the earning, saving, spending, and giving potential of money. Yes, giving. We believe it’s important that T knows that money isn’t just a means for him to “get stuff” (though getting stuff is quite important to any 5-1/2-year-old, of course), and we’ve already started him on the savings routine, but he also needs to learn that it’s a powerful tool that can help others, too. The funds raised by iWalk participants all will go to various MCH programs so scientists can continue to research causes and cures for debilitating and oftentimes terminal diseases. In turn, this helps ill children and their families better cope with challenging situations. What’s a better teachable moment than a feet-on (fun)draising effort that not only allows T to physically participate, but one that also allows him to meet, interact, and play with some of the kids whom his efforts benefit? What a gift for everyone involved.
2. iWalk… for Kids is an event for ALL kids. Check out this fun zone they had last year: So. Many. Jumps. This year, this area’s dubbed the “Family Funfest,” with activities for the entire family to enjoy, including but not limited to:
- Mercy Air will be landing a helicopter
- Rock out to Long Beach’s own Blue Steel band
- Check out one of Long Beach’s own fire trucks
- Get your face painted and learn about summer safety
- Take a slide or climb our inflatable ladder
You had T at landing a helicopter. Honestly though, when he saw the photos of the jumps and the helicopter from last year’s iWalk, he already had asked me why he was left behind. Lesson learned.
3. Never take your – or your child’s health – for granted. Speaking of lessons, the biggest lesson I learned at last year’s iWalk… for Kids was how grateful C, T, and I are for our own health (knock wood). We’ve also been reminded lately more and more of how important gratitude is as some of our own family members have been coping with their own health issues and challenges recently. However, regardless of how dire some of the MCH kids’ health situations are (and some are VERY grave… we are talking terminal diagnoses in infants and toddlers, RMT’ers), I’ve never seen such a strong, happy, positive group of children surrounded by a network of as positive families and friends. These MCH families are truly some of the most inspiring people I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet to date, and others in our community agree. Remember Sydney? Well, she was voted Most Inspiring Student in the Long Beach Unified School District last spring, and for good reason. She’s awesome. ‘Nuff said. PS – she’s also doing much better than last year as I write this (WOO HOO!).
“Sydney is doing great; we just finished her last chemo treatment two weeks ago and she was able to start school last week,” said her mom, Jennifer. “I don’t think they consider her in remission until she has clear scans after she has finished treatments. But, there has been no evidence of the tumor (or any others) since last year.”
Jennifer also elaborated on just what makes the care at MCH a step above and beyond others. “When I start thinking about these last few months of treatment and what has made a difference/impact….what comes to mind is the child life specialists, the music and art therapists. The hem(atology)/onc(ology) floor has their own child life specialist, paid directly through Jonathan Jacques (Children’s Cancer Center). I heard Dr Finkelstein did this to make sure there would be continuity, stability for the kids coming in on a long-term basis. Personally it has made a huge difference to us, with the uncertainty of our situation. (For us) knowing that Allison and Rose would be in the playroom was a huge comfort to Sydney. She looked forward to seeing and spending time with them.”
It’s not too late to register for or give towards this year’s iWalk… for Kids, RMT’ers! Online registration ends this Friday September 13, and the event is THIS SUNDAY September 15, 2013. Day-of registration is available; however, T-shirt availability will be limited without advance registration. Check-in begins at 8:30 a.m., opening ceremonies begin at 9:30 a.m., and the walk steps off at 9:45 a.m. from the Harry Bridges Memorial Park (AKA Queen Mary Events Park) and circles over the Queensway Bridge and Shoreline Aquatic Park and back to its starting point. That’s where the Family Funfest will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Participants are encouraged to buy advance, discounted parking online before the event (about half-price!); alternatively, public transit runs to and from the walk site (you can check schedules here).
If you want to donate to the 2013 iWalk… for Kids in benefit of the research programs at Miller Children’s Hospital (MCH) of Long Beach (CA), please visit our family’s donation page. We are walking for the John Jacques Children’s Cancer Center (Cancer & Blood Disorders, JJCCC) and KidsCare (unrestricted general funds for all programs within MCH). Thank you.