Pediatric Carnival Day a community effort

DOWNEY- More than 400 pediatric patients, family members and volunteers participated in the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center's highly successful Pediatric Carnival Day last Saturday on the Rancho campus.A total of 74 Rancho pediatric patients attended the carnival, ranging from patients who have been coming to Rancho since they were six months old to those who were just admitted last week. Every member of Rancho's Pediatric team played a role in the event, underscoring their commitment to the very special children who are patients at Rancho. "Once you are a patient on Pediatrics, we never say goodbye," said Rancho Pediatric Recreation Therapist and Carnival Day leader Julie Helgren. "You are always welcome to come back and spend our special day with us. We especially love having our older patients come, because they are role models and mentors for our newer Peds patients. It is a great way to introduce them to one another." "It's also a wonderful time for the community to bond with our patients and their families and at the same time participate in a worthy cause that is lots of fun," said Rancho Chief of Pediatrics Luis Montes, MD. "It's great to see so many members of the community out supporting our kids." Many Rancho staff also brought their young children and participated in the fun. "It's a great way to build camaraderie with the staff and continue with our family atmosphere of sharing and caring on Pediatrics," Julie said. One of the highlights of the day was a Wheelchair Sports demonstration by the Rancho's Renegades Wheelchair Sports team, led by coaches Rob Welty and Rick Tirambulo. The Downey Fire Department played with the kids as well, bringing a fire engine for all the children (and the young at heart) to enjoy. "There was so much for the kids to do…no wonder they all had such a great time!" Dr. Montes said. It was a great day for the community, because so much of the fun was created by local participants, For example, the S.A. Mathis Family donated balloons, prizes, supplies and underwrote the Jungle Geebo Reptile Show and Magic Show. The Optimist Club of Downey created giant balloon arches, and the Downey Kiwanis donated and cooked all the food. The Laker Girls provided autographs and posed for photos with the kids (and occasionally some very big kids!) Miss Downey and Teen Miss Downey and their courts ran the tattoo booth and photo booth and played with the kids. Paws 4 Healing ran an Animal Assisted Therapy Booth, and the LA County Sheriff-Rancho Division brought a cruiser and passed out stickers, pencils and coloring books. Many other organizations also participated including Rancho Pediatric Dentistry, which gave away toothbrushes and dental floss. Volunteer Djs "TJ", "Jonathan" and Bam Bam handled the music. Flawless Diamonds Social Club sponsored the Plinko booth and ran the fishing booth. The Muscular Dystrophy Association donated prizes, and Girl Scout Troop #88 ran two booths. "There is no way that this day could happen without the dedication and determination of the Pediatric on line staff, volunteers and community support system we have built over the last 28 years," Julie said. "It is truly remarkable to see our community come together to give our kids a special day of fabulous fun and magical memories."

********** Published: September 15, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 22