DOWNEY - A driving rainstorm didn't dampen the enthusiasm of Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center's patients who enjoyed entertainment, food and fun at the hospital's 16th Annual New Year's Patient Carnival on Wednesday."This is truly a 'Carnival of Hope' for our patients, because whether they are inpatients or outpatients at the hospital, they forget about their stroke, spinal cord injury or brain injury for a couple of hours and focus on having a good time, just like any other person who enjoys the holiday season," said Rancho Director of Volunteer Services Debbie Tomlinson. Although Rancho moved the carnival indoors to the second floor of the Jacquelin Perry Institute to avoid the rain, the patients still had a memorable time at the event thanks to the efforts of more than 50 District 4-L2 Leos volunteers who prepared the food, blew up the helium balloons, ran the booths and handed out beanie babies to patients. The Rancho Patient Carnival is a signature annual event for the Leos, who work with the adult Lions Club International members to serve the community. "We love the Carnival, because we know we are bringing cheer to individuals and families that need some hope for the holidays," said Leos 4-L2 District President Alfonso Toro. "I am very proud to see the hard work all the Leos put into this event. I think each of us learned something by working with Rancho's amazing patients and caring staff." "Every year, I am amazed at the dedication of these young people, who give up a day of their holiday vacation to bring joy to the children and adult patients of Rancho," said Steve Stolar, a member of the City of Industry Lions Club, who co-chairs the event for the Lions with Sally Jones of the Montebello club. "When you see the way the Leos work individually with each patient to make sure they really enjoy themselves, it makes the months of preparation for this day worthwhile," he said. The Leos treated patients to complimentary hot dogs, nachos, cotton candy, popcorn and soft drinks, as well as balloons and beanie babies, which were funded by the Lions. The Leos also manned the marbling booth under the direction of Rancho graduate artist Kenneth Younger, where patients created their own unique artworks. "This event reminds all of us that fun is an essential part of life, especially during the holidays," said Rancho Chief Executive Officer Jorge Orozco. "When you see the faces of the patients and their families light up, you realize the positive impact an event such as this can have in the life of someone who is recovering from a catastrophic disabling illness or injury. "We have had a wonderful holiday season at Rancho, with many visits by carolers, with a record 61 patient families in need being adopted for the holidays by Rancho staff and our friends in the community, and now this extraordinary New Year's Patient Carnival," Orozco said. "The success of this event puts an exclamation point on what has been one of the merriest and most meaningful holiday seasons our patients and staff have ever known."
********** Published: December 30, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 37