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Change CHOC, Change the World Campaign Newsletter
CHOC Children’s Launches Campaign to Fulfill Destiny of the Hospital

Illness Brings Together Two Strong Voices in Support of CHOC
The Honorary Chair and Campaign Child Ambassador share their thoughts on the campaign

“CHOC is a community of good people, and they’re open to anyone and everyone. The firstclass treatment here is amazing. Everyone is nice and very helpful,” says Tommaso “Tommy” Conforti, CHOC Children’s first Campaign Child Ambassador. But while the extroverted thirteen-year-old seventh grader may sound like an experienced pitchman speaking on behalf on an organization, his personal experience makes the words take on greater meaning: Conforti has undergone aggressive treatment at CHOC twice since 2005 to fight acute lymphatic leukemia, a cancer of the white blood cells that attacked his optic nerve.

Italy-born Conforti is an ongoing patient at CHOC, working through maintenance treatment and additional chemotherapy, but you would never know it: A smile regularly fills his tanned face, he is upbeat and optimistic, and he has the lively, unconstrained energy of a typical teenager. “I feel good,” he says. “I play soccer, I go to school. I have a normal life now because of the good treatment CHOC provides.”

“Tommy understands firsthand the need that there is in the community for a children’s hospital because of the specialized care he received,” says Sandy Segerstrom Daniels, honorary chair for the “Change CHOC, Change the World” campaign, the comprehensive $125 million fundraising effort intended to transform the future of CHOC. “That’s really what the campaign is all about—helping children in Orange County. We’re proud to represent the hospital and spread the word.”

Like Conforti, Daniels also has a personal connection to CHOC: Her granddaughter was just two days old when she was admitted to CHOC for emergency care. The granddaughter has since recovered.

As partners in promoting the campaign, the two have become fast friends ever since they met last May at the new tower’s beam-signing ceremony that was part of the public launch of the campaign. At the event, Conforti played a song on guitar with CHOC music therapist Eric Mammen, who taught him how to play, bedside, while Conforti was enduring cancer treatment in the hospital. After the impressive performance, Conforti, ever the creative and funny teen, approached Daniels and told her she looked like pop singer Olivia Newton John, a favorite of his. They instantly bonded.

Daniels returned the favor returned the favor when she presented him with an autographed picture of Newton John at the recent CHOC Follies, a yearly song and dance performance that has raised $5 million for CHOC since its inception thirteen years ago. Daniels, the Follies cochair, has performed for more than a decade, and Conforti was on hand to announce one of the Follies shows. Proceeds from this year’s Follies will support a radiology waiting room in the new, state-of-the-art patient care tower, slated to open in 2013.

Daniels returned the favor returned the favor when she presented him with an autographed picture of Newton John at the recent CHOC Follies, a yearly song and dance performance that has raised $5 million for CHOC since its inception thirteen years ago. Daniels, the Follies cochair, has performed for more than a decade, and Conforti was on hand to announce one of the Follies shows. Proceeds from this year’s Follies will support a radiology waiting room in the new, state-of-the-art patient care tower, slated to open in 2013.

While a substantial amount, Daniels and Conforti realize they are still involved in an uphill battle for CHOC to meet the critical fundraising goals of the campaign. “We want CHOC to be one of the best hospitals in the U.S.,” says Conforti. “That’s why I like helping make people aware of the new tower and the things they can do to help CHOC. That’s important for all children.”

“If you’ve ever known, or been involved with or had a child that has needed the kind of care that CHOC can give, then you know why CHOC is so important to Orange County. It’s that hands-on experience, and sometimes you can’t understand it unless you’ve experienced it. It became personal for me and for Tommy. That’s why we hope to help CHOC even more, and we’re thrilled to be involved,” says Daniels.

CHOC CHILDREN'S PUBLICATIONS
PHYSICIAN CONNECTION ENEWSLETTER
KIDS HEALTH MAGAZINE
ANNUAL REPORT
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Children's Hospital of Orange County is affiliated with UC Irvine Healthcare and UC Irvine School of Medicine

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