With a rare break during this compressed 2013 NHL schedule, the Anaheim Ducks spent one of their off-days this week strutting their stuff and helping raise money for one of our community’s most important institutions, CHOC Children’s.
A sold out event held at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa, the Lady Ducks hosted their 6th annual Fashion Show Luncheon benefitting CHOC. Over the last five years, the Lady Ducks and this event have raised over $485,000 in support of this Orange County treasure.
This year, the money raised will be specifically designated to fund a new fitness center inside the hospital’s newly opened state-of-the-art Bill Holmes Tower. The Anaheim Ducks Fitness Center will be located on the expanded Pediatric Oncology floor and will house equipment that will be used by children for physical therapy as well as by family members who are at the facility for extended stays.
Guests were greeted upon arrival with a champagne reception and a silent auction, where prizes from golf rounds to hotel stays to autographed Ducks gear were all up for grabs to the highest bidder. And all of the Ducks players, coaching staff, management and broadcasters were on hand, interacting with fans and posing for countless photographs.
Inside the Grand Pacific Ballroom, Ducks television host, Kent French, and KTLA 5 Morning News Meteorologist and Orange County native, Henry DiCarlo, hosted the Fashion Show and Live Auction, which featured some fantastic prizes such as a dinner cruise around Newport Harbor with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, and a private dinner with Teemu Selanne and his wife, Sirpa, at Teemu’s new restaurant in Laguna Beach.
During the luncheon, I was seated with Ducks television color commentator, Brian Hayward, and Ducks players David Steckel and Toni Lydman, who all proved to be excellent company.
It was particularly great to chat with David. My first time meeting the center since he was traded to the Ducks from Toronto last month, he said he’s enjoying some newfound anonymity that I think is unique to playing NHL hockey in Orange County. Drafted by that team up the freeway back in 2001, David was already familiar with this area and is definitely happy to be back in SoCal and playing for the Ducks. (And he scored a one-of-a-kind goal the other night, his first of the season, which you can see here.)
A Wisconsin native who played hockey for the Ohio State Buckeyes, David and I chatted, what else? College football, of course. Anyone who knows the Horned Frog is TCU’s mascot without skipping a beat is a friend in my book.
While the guests moved on to the dessert course of the meal, the Fashion Show got rolling, featuring Ducks players Jonas Hiller, Sheldon Souray, Bryan Allen, Matt Beleskey, Viktor Fasth, Luca Sbisa, Bobby Ryan, Corey Perry, Francois Beauchemin, Ryan Getzlaf and their significant others as they all walked the catwalk in new fashions from Saks Fifth Avenue. My favorite hands down was Beauch in those crazy floral pants. He owned it.
Then the players came back out onto the runway, paired with some special boys and girls from CHOC Children’s who were dressed in summer threads from Quicksilver. Each of these amazing kids has a story of hope and triumph, and they all credit CHOC with giving them a chance to continue to live their lives today.
One of the most inspiring stories of the afternoon came from 11-year old Dean Hirsch, who was paired with Ryan Getzlaf. Serving as this year’s CHOC Children’s Ambassador, Dean loves soccer and is back on the field playing after being off of chemotherapy treatment for almost a year, all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. I could see in his eyes that he loves life and is grateful for the chance to continue to live it, playing soccer and doing what any other 11-year boy should be doing.
CHOC Children’s President and CEO, Kim Cripe, thanked those in attendance, event Co-Chairs Paige Getzlaf and Caroline Marchant, and all of the Lady Ducks for their continued support of the hospital and their mission.
As a fan of both Ducks hockey and CHOC, and as a parent in Orange County, I’m grateful as well. Because investing in the health of children, our future and our most valuable resource, is one of the greatest gifts we can give our community.
I never get tired of seeing the big smiles on those brave kids’ faces.