Today was amazing! We participated in our second annual CHOC Walk in the Park. It is a 5K walk through the Disneyland Resort to raise money for the Orange County Children's Hospital. This year we decided to walk as a team, Amaya's Goonies, (inspired by Amaya's favorite movie, The Goonies). We were joined by Amaya's Nana, Tia Amanda, and baby cousin Sierra. As a team we raised $500! Although Loma Linda Children's hospital is our home hospital and where Amaya has received her four surgeries we were happy to go be a part of the children's' hospital patient community. It feels good to be able to help another Children's hospital. I know first hand what great work Children's hospitals do and what special places they are.
Thank you to all of you who donated, cheered us on and sent us love and well wishes today! We appreciate all of you.
Here are some highlights from the day.
One of the fun things about having a team this year was making team decorations. Here's Amaya working on the sign she hung from her wheelchair. She thought of what to write and made the sign, with minimal help from dad. Isn't that awesome?
Here she is cutting part of the sign.
It was neat to see her put so much time, effort and care into the sign and preparations.
Josh and Amaya made all of our decorations this year.
Here's a look at the flag and some of the badges they made for us to wear.
Amaya in the parking garage with her game face on, ready to walk the 5k.
Sierra bundled up and ready to walk. She had her stroller decorated with her Goonies badge. Did you notice, the skull has one bone shorter than the other? That wasn't a mistake. That skull has PFFD too.
I was so happy Josh caught this moment on video. It was powerful. I was filled with joy and tears. As we walked up to and past the starting point and stage the announcer noticed Amaya and read her sign aloud. It was emotional for me to have so many people cheering for her and sharing in her accomplishment. It's so amazing to think about and reflect all that Amaya has been through this past year and how much she's overcome. Although those people don't know all that it took for her to get to where she is now, they someone know that it took something special. You could feel their love, joy and energy. I share that moment with Dr. Nelson and Amaya's "amazing team."
Toward the end of the walk a cast member approached Josh and told him that some of the staff under him were touched by Amaya. They said she was an inspiration to them. Josh thanked him for his kindness. It left both of us a bit speechless.
In prepping for today we talked about many ideas and at some point Josh thought it would be neat for Amaya to push her wheelchair to symbolize that she doesn't need it anymore. She liked the idea and then the idea of the sign was added. She chose the words, all by herself. Its sweet to see her acknowledge Dr. Nelson and her "amazing team" and all they did for her this past year. Her team included Melissa, the other therapists that helped and encouraged her, the residents, our pediatrician, our referral coordinator, and our family and friends.
In case you don't know or don't remember what Amaya looked like last year here's a reminder...
Although Amaya wanted to walk last year, she ended up spending the majority of the time in her wheelchair. After ten months of having her external fixator on and lengthening her femur by 8 cm she was in a lot of discomfort at this point. She was less than a week away from having her fixator removed, her muscles were tight, she had nerve and pin site pain. At that point her walking was slow and with the large crowd it was a bit tricky to maneuver safely through the crowd. Also it was cold and she had her legs exposed and found comfort from sitting bundled up. By the end of the day she did end up walking quite a bit and making the best of it. She was a trooper!
Here's a closer look at her leg with her fixator on.
It's hard to believe how much has changed in one years time. It really is amazing.
Okay, now back to pictures from today's walk.
Lidie and I enjoying the walk.
Sweet Sierra showing off the Goonies onesie Tia Amanda made her. Pretty cool, huh?
Lidie flying the Goonies flag.
Lidie with the princesses.
Amaya's Goonies walking down Main Street in Disneyland.
Lidie wore her badge proudly on her back.
Amaya taking a break on Dad's shoulders. I like his badge. It reads, "Amaya's Goonies for PFFD."
A fun thing about the walk is that a lot of characters are out for the kids to see, wave at and pose with. The girls posed with Sophia the First.
Amaya pushing her wheelchair through California Adventure. She decided to give Minnie Mouse (with a pirate patch on), Nemo (of course we had to have Nemo! Lucky Fins Rock!) and a doll with a "fixator" on her leg a ride. In case you can't read her sign it says, "Last year I rolled...This year I WALK Thanks to Dr. Nelson and my amazing team." She got lots of smiles, high fives, cheers, and congratulations. It was neat to see peoples faces as they read her sign. Their looks were of pure joy, excitement and amazement. I teared up many times as people stopped to talk to her.
Throughout the day Amaya felt embarrassed, shy and unsure of how she felt being called an "inspiration." At one point she even cried. Maybe its a lot to process when you're eight years old. At bedtime we talked a bout it a bit more. I reminded her that I loved her and was proud to be her mother. And I called her my reluctant inspiration. Which she thought was kind of funny.
I love this picture of the girls and I with Sierra. I love how Amaya is cuddled up to me.
Here we are at the finish line! Way to go Amaya's Goonies!
See you Next year CHOC Walk! Feel free to join our team next year.
We can always use a few more Goonies!