February 05, 2011
CHOC Children’s proudly announces 13-year-old cancer patient Tommaso “Tommy” Conforti as the 2011 CHOC Children’s Campaign Ambassador. Tommy was selected as one of three finalists through an application process, before securing the community’s support (and the most votes) through online voting. In his role as Ambassador, Tommy will represent CHOC and share his personal experience at various events, helping to engage the community in the “Change CHOC, Change the World” campaign.
Born in Italy, Tommy was diagnosed with ALL (acute lymphatic leukemia) in August 2005 while visiting his grandparents in Connecticut with his mom Katherine and younger sister Vittoria. He was immediately admitted to the hospital. After being cleared for travel and school, Tommy went back to Italy with his family. Following a little over three years of treatment, he, his mom and sister returned to the United States; this time, settling in Newport Beach so Tommy and Vittoria could study English.
In November 2008, one day before Thanksgiving, doctors at CHOC Children’s discovered leukemia cells on Tommy’s optic nerve. Tommy underwent radiation and chemotherapy. Currently, he is undergoing maintenance treatment, which involves additional chemotherapy (either orally or through an IV). He has just three months of maintenance treatment left. A charismatic young man, who enjoys reading, working on his computer and playing with his friends, Tommy is also a musician. Through CHOC’s music therapy program, run by board-certified music therapist Eric Mammen, Tommy learned to play the guitar – now a favorite pastime.
Thrilled to be named the 2011 CHOC Children’s Campaign Ambassador, Tommy says, “I can’t wait to spread the message that CHOC is important in our community. You never know when you may need CHOC. Hopefully you don’t, but if you do, they’re always there for you.”
Tommy was formally introduced as the Ambassador in front of nearly 300 guests at the “CHOC Cherishes Children” gala, held on January 22 at the Island Hotel in Newport Beach. Sandy Daniels, honorary chair for the “Change CHOC, Change the World” campaign, made the announcement, and presented him with the first of four $250 gift certificates, courtesy of South Coast Plaza.
About “Change CHOC, Change the World”
Launched in Spring 2010, the “Change CHOC, Change the World” campaign is a comprehensive fund-raising campaign intended to transform the future of CHOC and, with it, the future of Orange County. More specifically, the campaign will help CHOC to become a sustainable world-class pediatric institution by building a state-of-the-art facility set to open in Spring 2013; building a substantial endowment to support recruiting more of the world’s top pediatric experts, while continuing to foster an environment of innovation and discovery; and building upon the academic and research affiliation with UC Irvine and its School of Medicine.
About CHOC Children's: Named one of the best children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report (2012-2013), CHOC Children's is exclusively committed to the health and well-being of children through clinical expertise, advocacy, outreach and research that brings advanced treatment to pediatric patients. Affiliated with the University of California, Irvine, CHOC’s regional healthcare network includes two state-of-the-art hospitals in Orange and Mission Viejo, several primary and specialty care clinics, a pediatric residency program, and four centers of excellence - The CHOC Children’s Heart, Neuroscience, Orthopaedic and Hyundai Cancer Institutes. CHOC earned the Gold Level CAPE Award from the California Council of Excellence, the only children’s hospital in California to ever earn this distinction, and was awarded Magnet designation, the highest honor bestowed to hospitals for nursing excellence. Recognized for extraordinary commitment to high-quality critical care standards, CHOC’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) is the first in the United States to earn the Pediatric Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence.
Denise Almazan, Director of Public Relations
phone: (714) 509-8680