On Sunday October 13, 2013 thousands of people woke up early and made their way to the Disneyland Resort. Before the sun even had begun peaking over the hills, these thousands of people streamed with balloons, signs, t-shirts, and hearts full of love and support for the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC). The CHOC Walk is an annual 5k walk through the Disneyland Resort to raise funds in support of the CHOC. The CHOC Walk itself is the culmination of months of preparation by Disneyland, CHOC, and the walkers themselves.
The preparation for CHOC Walk begins for many the moment the previous year’s CHOC Walk ends. For Team DAPs Magic as they cross the line, there is always talk of what will be done during the next year to be even better. So great is the love for this mission that people are constantly striving to do better. For Team DAPs Magic, there are several reasons to walk. The biggest reason is to honor the memory of Ylaria. Ylaria was a patient at CHOC who sadly was taken away from this world entirely too soon from cancer. The team has a special connection and was more than honored when her family visited from Bakersfield and walked with Team DAPs Magic in 2011. The walk with them was an emotional one for both the family and team and will not be forgotten. The level of support and love given to the family throughout the process of the CHOC Walk was simply beautiful. Even Caroline Sunshine had a warm and heartfelt embrace for Ylaria’s sister after hearing her story. It was a moment that won’t be forgotten by anyone who experienced it. Other members of Team DAPs Magic have been rescued by CHOC as well. One of the core team members had surgery there as a 6 week old infant. With so many amazing moments and good deeds done by an organization like CHOC, it quickly becomes clear why so many people look forward and plan for this event yearly.
How to Build a CHOC Walk Team – A Look at the Process
For teams preparing for CHOC Walk, the process begins first with the decision to create a team. This might be a team that is a corporate team, a community team, another organization or perhaps just a group of friends. Someone steps forward and coordinates the team by being the Team Captain. This person is responsible for the team both as a leader and also as a person who can be a liaison with the amazing group of people who run the CHOC Walk. They also start setting the foundation for the next year’s CHOC Walk as they begin to recruit members and also keep people aware of when CHOC Walk generally happens (second Sunday in October).
For many, the moment CHOC announced that registration is open, teams are created/registered at chocwalk.org. Then the recruiting process begins in earnest. A lot of recruiting comes via word of mouth. Social media is also utilized as people invite friends, family members, and others to join in the “walk in the park.” Some teams come back yearly and people return to walk with their teams and causes year after year. There are also new teams joining each year as more people discover about this wonderful cause.Team DAPs Magic always creates signs and wears a variety of hats for the CHOC Walk.
CHOC Walk teams often have an identity. Sometimes it involves balloons, matching t-shirts, or in the case of Team DAPs Magic, hats. Signs are often made as well proclaiming the reason a team is walking, or the person a team is walking for. These signs range from craft projects made on the kitchen table to elaborate professionally made signs. Beyond promoting the team and the memory or reason the team is walking, the identity also helps build a connection between the team members. It also is helpful in helping make the group feel more like a team. Lastly, while walking through the park during the CHOC Walk it helps to be able to recognize group members in an effort to stay together (if that is important to a team).
The goal of the CHOC Walk is to help raise more funds for CHOC. While it is an incredibly fun experience it is also a fundraiser and involves fundraising. Teams always are looking to raise money to make a difference. Each individual walker is tasked with raising $50 for the CHOC Walk. Some raise exactly $50 (or just donate it), others raise more. Some teams find corporate sponsors to match their donations. Others do fundraising events to help raise money for the walk. This is often a point where walkers discover the incredible generosity of people. Through the years of fundraising for Team DAPs Magic, it has been amazing to see how people will so generously and selflessly give.
Finally, the day has arrived. This year that day was October 13. If everything goes as plan, the team captain has designated a meeting time and place and the entire team has arrived. They have made their way through the esplanade and onto Main Street to experience the opening ceremony for CHOC Walk. For being as early as it is, the energy is contagious. For the last ten years, Clark the DJ has revved up the crowd with music, dancing, and sometimes just silliness as the clock counts down to the beginning of the CHOC Walk. The moment everyone has building towards is at hand. It is time to “walk in the park,” which is another experience in itself. An experience that will be covered in upcoming posts in this series on the 23rd Annual CHOC Walk Through the Park at Disneyland.
If you would like to join Team DAPs Magic for the 2014 CHOC Walk, please “like” our facebook page as we will put updates and links for how to register and join our team throughout the year. We will be looking for volunteers to help us create banners, find hats, and do some more fundraisers throughout the year to make 2014 the best year yet for Team DAPs Magic at CHOC Walk. Let’s give back to an organization that really makes a huge difference!