Nearly 2,000 of City of Hope’s youngest cancer patients, survivors and their families and caregivers gathered on June 2 for “A Very Groovy Picnic,” an event commemorating National Cancer Survivors Day.
The pediatrics picnic, now in its 10th year, had a 60s and 70s theme and was held at the Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum at Griffith Park.
The picnic serves as a milestone in recovery, providing a much-needed opportunity for pediatric patients and their families to socialize. It is organized by the Division of Pediatrics, which is led by Judith Sato, M.D., acting chair of the division and director of the Musculoskeletal Tumor Program. About two dozen faculty, staff and supporters put together the event.
“This is our biggest and best picnic to date,” Sato said. “We worked six months to get this all together so that our patients and families can have a wonderful day outside of the hospital, just playing and having fun.”
Surprise guests Miley Cyrus, of Disney Channel’s “Hannah Montana,” and her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, sang the duet “I Learned From You” from the show’s title CD. She followed with an a cappella version of her hit song “Best of Both Worlds” before taking photos with fans.
Actress Florence Henderson, assisted by Sato and an Austin Powers lookalike, conducted a drawing, as well. “It’s so great to be a part of this wonderful picnic,” said Henderson. “The work Dr. Sato’s done over the years is truly inspiring.”
Mickey and Minnie Mouse posed for pictures, and Live Steamers offered picnickers rides on its model trains. Other highlights included performers from the Magic Castle, disco-dance lessons from the group “Dance Extreme” and a Star Wars procession.
Dozens of generous sponsors contributed to the success of the event. “We’ve been sponsoring the picnic every year for five years and love being part of it,” said Melinda Race, director of catering for Bristol Farms.
Panda Express also celebrated its fifth year with the event. “It’s very meaningful to give back to the community, and the kids’ smiles make us happy to be here,” said Panda Cares Program Manager Tina Wu. The San Gabriel Valley H.O.G.s (Harley Owners Group), also in its fifth year, donated 270 pounds of chocolate, according to group member Valerie Smith, administrative director in the Division of Population Sciences.
The event happened on the same weekend as City of Hope’s “Academy of Hope Awards,” a gathering for adult cancer survivors. Held at Pioneer Park on the Duarte, Calif., campus on June 3, that celebration welcomed more than 1,400 survivors, friends, family members and caregivers.
Keeping with the theme, attendees entered on a red carpet, greeted by paparazzi and the glitter of celebrity impersonators. A wall of fame featured gold stars showing survivors names. The event was organized by Linda Baginski of the Department of Patient, Family & Community Education and a committee of volunteers and staff.