Making a difference with CHOC: Supporting pediatric mental health in our community

From Lido Living

By Rhea Hayes

As Richard Goddard starts a new chapter in his life, he knows his late wife Karen, whom he affectionately called “Mush,” would approve that the business they founded together continues to thrive and that he has found happiness in a new relationship. Richard and his girlfriend Dee Dee Ward enjoy all that Lido has to offer. They travel for business and recreation, usually seeking warm weather places, and recently went on safari.

Richard is amazed by the “evolution” of Lido and the ambiance of the many new restaurants and shops that have transformed the Isle into a destination attractive to residents and tourists alike. Richard and Dee Dee walk their American Cocker Spaniels Lolo and J.W. (John Wayne, of course!) and feel comfortable at home. Yet, if they decide to take a harbor cruise, it’s likely to be aboard the beautiful new blue and white electric boat that Richard helped to design, a floating reminder that Karen’s early death and struggle with mental illness was not in vain. This is how it happened:

In 1984 when Richard moved from New York to Newport Beach, he sought sunshine and opportunity, but he never anticipated that his life would take an even more dramatic turn; getting to know his new hometown, he wandered into a shop in Corona del Mar and engaged with an effervescent blonde named Karen.

The two would fall in love, get married, and go on to work side by side to develop a thriving business of their own called Concept Studio, which became known for a curated selection of exceptional stone, marble, ceramic and porcelain tile, and full-service custom design projects. “Our concept for the showroom was this…If Ralph Lauren were to design our venue, what would it look like?” They enjoyed success supplying materials and designing properties throughout and beyond Orange County, including upscale residential areas in other resort areas like Sun Valley and Hawaii.

Richard and Karen became Lido residents in 2002, and they remodeled their home with the same quality touches they were offering to their growing clientele – who would become friends, as well. They also embraced the Lido lifestyle, biking and walking their dogs. But all was not as it appeared.

Karen was a dynamic and creative person who, from a young age, had suffered from bipolar disorder, which meant her moods swung from infectious exuberance to impenetrable isolation. Her care left Richard constantly searching and wishing for ways to help her live a full, healthy life, but when he sought information and guidance, he didn’t find enough to be of help. When she died in 2011 at the age of 57, Karen would join the tragic and growing list of high-functioning, wildly creative people like Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, who took their own lives when they could no longer deal with the impact of the disorder.

Following Karen’s passing, Richard vowed to do all he could to offer hope and help to anyone living with the challenges of bipolar disease. In her honor, he created The Mush Foundation, named for Karen’s nickname. “I lost my incredible wife, friend, business partner, mentor, teacher, soulmate and spiritual guide,” he said. So through his affiliation with CHOC and The Children’s Pediatric Mental Health Center, Richard assists fundraising efforts to help others, especially children, avoid the heartbreaking consequences of unaddressed mental health issues. “My wife’s illness clearly began as a young adult, and her loss was devastating. I was determined that her life and passing would make a difference for others who are in pain.”

He joined CHOC’s Mental Health Advocacy Committee that works to build awareness of children’s mental health issues and raises money for CHOC’s programs, which include the extraordinary Mental Health Inpatient Center in Orange. This 18-bed facility helps kids ages 3–17 who are experiencing a serious mental health crisis, and served over 700 children in its first year.

Richard had worked on projects with Interior Designer Stephanie Inzalaco, who reached out to him to share her similar experience. “I have dealt with the effects of mental illness in my family. The struggles and challenges affect the entire family in a variety of ways. Not only the one afflicted requires therapy but all members of the family. New positive communication skills and DBT training, which was initially designed to help people with suicidal behavior and borderline personality disorder, can be extremely effective for the entire family to learn. Parents are able to support their child during their struggles more effectively allowing for a safer environment in the home when they develop these new skills. Family education bridges the gap of support from intensive inpatient treatment back home again,” she said.

Stephanie was aware that the newly opened Lido Marina Village Electric Boat Company planned to dedicate an electric boat to promote a charitable cause. EBC Owner Scott Tiernan reported that last year, the Susan G. Komen Cancer Center benefited by more than $5,000, so Stephanie jumped at the opportunity to designate the next candidate. Richard started sketching out the graphics to represent CHOC, and thanks to Stephanie’s connection to the builder, the Canadian Electric Boat Company, the 11-passenger Volt 180 CHOC Children’s boat took shape, debuting at the Lido boat show in April this year.

Twenty-five dollars of every rental fee will be donated to CHOC and matched up to $50,000 for a year by the Inzalaco family. The funds will be directed to the Inpatient Center to build a sun cover and add lighting to the playground to provide new options for therapy, interaction and downtime. Other CHOC programs include an eight-week Intensive Outpatient Program to help teens learn coping skills and avoid hospitalization and a Co-occurring Clinic for children suffering from both chronic illness and mental health conditions. “We know that with timely,
evidence-based treatment and support, most kids can get better and are less likely to have serious mental health conditions as adults,” says Dr. Heather Huszti, chief psychologist at CHOC.

The statistics are staggering. One in five kids will suffer from a diagnosable mental health condition before they turn 18. To support the cause, rent the CHOC Children’s boat at Lido Marina Village Electric Boat Rental,, (949) 612-8248.