The last time we posted an update, we said that it would not be so long until the next one. Yet, here we are again and time has flown by so fast, it is hard to keep up with. During these last few weeks, we attended the Celebration of Champions and San Diego Padres game. We celebrated our 25th Wedding Anniversary (Happy Anniversary Babe!) which was made possible thanks to Kathleen for hanging out with the boys so we could have some quality time. We celebrated Memorial Day weekend and now soccer is in full swing. Wow!
When Rady Children’s Hospital does an event, they do it right! On Saturday, May 10th, we were invited out to an event called Celebration of Champions for pediatric cancer patients, aka Champions, to celebrate those who are battling against Cancer and also remember those who have lost their battle after fighting so hard. The event was held down at the Marina Park on the San Diego bay front right by Seaport Village and you couldn’t pick a more beautiful place to bring all of these Champions together.
The idea of the event is to bring the patients, families, doctors, nurses, and staff and pair them with sponsors and celebrities to run an Olympic style relay passing the Torch to the next runner. The distance each runner had to go was about 1/8th of a mile. Everything started out with the Marine Corps Color Guard presenting the colors and the National Anthem. That always gives us goose bumps! Then the relay was kicked off by the Remembrance Walk to celebrate and remember those children who lost their battle with cancer while their families and friends carried pictures of them around the first lap. Then they all came to the center of the event for the Balloon Releasing Ceremony where the white balloons were released and represented the Angel Champions. There was not a dry eye in the crowd and it was very emotional to watch those balloons disappear into the sky. Very powerful stuff! After we took a deep breath, dried our eyes and said a little prayer, we continued on with the Relay, just as those little Angels would have wanted us to do.
The relay portion of the event lasted around two hours and it was incredible to see each and every Champion carry the torch and pass it along to the next Champion. They were all surrounded by their families, friends, care givers, celebrities and sponsors. Some ran, some walked, some were pushed in their wheelchair and some were carried the distance by their celebrity. It was so inspirational and uplifting to witness knowing firsthand what these amazing Champions have had to overcome in their lives.
Travis’ celebrity was Jedd Gyorko of the San Diego Padres and his sponsor was a team of about 8-10 scientists from Pfizer who work in the cancer field. We were also able to meet, take pictures and get autographs of other celebrities including Nick Hundley and Will Venable of the San Diego Padres among others. With the relay running a little longer than expected, just when it was almost Travis’ turn, Jedd came up to us to apologize because he had to leave to get down to the Padres stadium at Petco Park for their game later in the day. We understood and we told Jedd we really appreciated him taking the time to come out and spend time with us. One of the other celebrities in our group, Rich “Super” Power (a professional fighter), heard what was going on and he said “I’m running with Travis!” He is such a great guy and you just couldn’t help being overcome by his infectious energy as he interacted with all of the kids. Rich asked Travis are we walking, jogging or running and Travis said we are sprinting. Rich said: “here we go!” So when Travis received the torch from the previous runner, he took off running and it was hard for all of us to keep up with him. That was great to see as we sprinted to try and keep up with him!
The relay concluded with a Survivors’ Lap where all of the Champions took a celebratory lap with all of the celebrities and it was inspiring to see so many kids battling back from such a terrible disease. The event provided lunch for all of us courtesy of Jersey Mike subs and everything was delicious. After lunch, the kids were able to enjoy a bunch of Carnival Booths that were set up around the event so they could do face painting, ice cream sundae making, photo booth, ball toss and so much more. It really was a well-organized event that we will look forward to attending in the years to come.
Here is the link to the Celebration of Champions if you want to read more about the event:
In addition to our local KUSI TV newscast covering the event (Travis was on TV twice during the newscast), here is a link to our local 10 News article covering the event (Travis is in one of the photos wearing the yellow shirt carrying the torch and running with celebrity Rich “Super” Power).
After the event, we were treated to a San Diego Padres game against the Miami Marlins by the Padres Manager, Buddy Black and his wife. All of the kids were taken down onto the field in front of the Padres dugout along the first base line and honored as part of the Celebration of Champions before the game. And, the Padres won!
That was a great way to finish off a perfect day!
Tony and Lynne