It was early. Very early. And it was still dark. But the temperature was relatively warm as the Anaheim Ducks Die Hards gathered on Sunday morning in support of the 22nd annual CHOC Walk in the Park event at the Disneyland Resort.
The Ducks booster club team members joined 16,000 walkers as they strolled the 5K route through Disney’s California Adventure and Disneyland to raise money for research and education at CHOC Children’s in Orange County.
And it was a record year for the popular event, as registration reached capacity and $1.8 million has already been raised ahead of the October 31st fundraising deadline.
Ducks Die Hards member, Jennie Schueller, pitched the idea back in the spring of having a Die Hards team participate in the CHOC Walk and has been working tirelessly since June with the Ducks Fan Development Department to gather team members, coordinate details and help raise funds for this great cause.
And Die Hard members responded, with 86 participants raising $8,100 to date, including a very special donation from Ducks forward, Andrew Cogliano. After seeing a number of Schueller’s posts on Facebook regarding the event and how the Die Hards were supporting CHOC, Cogliano decided to make his own personal donation to the effort. It was an unexpected, but welcome gift.
Another happy story about how social media can be used for good. And thank you, Cogs. You are awesome.
This was my second year participating in the CHOC Walk and what I find so inspiring about this event are the stories of bravery, gratitude and love as told through the countless t-shirts, posters and balloons that team members display along the walk. The names of so many children being honored, some who were there walking, and others who are no longer with us, were a constant reminder of the number of lives and families that CHOC Children’s has impacted in this community.
The most memorable t-shirt I saw that morning was one that simply said in bold red letters, “CHOC saved my child’s life”. I couldn’t help but see the gratitude on those team members faces.
And I was grateful to meet up briefly with long time Ducks fans, Gennie and Magnus Lindgren. You may remember Gennie from last spring’s “Finntastic Night”, as she was the lucky winner of an unforgettable meet-and-greet with Teemu Selanne, a night that she still speaks of with such excitement. She and her husband were there Sunday with a large group of family and friends they had assembled in honor of their daughter, Lily.
At four months of age, Lily was diagnosed with Congenital Glioblastoma, a rare brain tumor. And now three years into remission, Lily was walking, with her sweet grin, along with her family and many supporters in their bright green “Team Lily” t-shirts as a way of showing thanks for all CHOC has done to help the Lindgren family through this time.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the relationship the Ducks have with CHOC, and we here at When Girls Love Hockey like to spotlight it every chance we get. Whether it’s the money they have raised, the physical spaces in the hospital they have helped build or the countless player visits that have put smiles on those precious kids faces, I’m proud to be a fan of a team and an organization that is so active in supporting the Orange County treasure we have in CHOC.
It was definitely a great display of Ducks Dedication. Well done, Die Hards!