More children and teenagers are surviving cancer and other serious diseases than ever before, but City of Hope staff members — and children’s families — know that many still reach the end of their days far too soon.
To remember these young patients, more than 200 friends and family members recently joined together at Cooper Auditorium for the 2006 Pediatric Memorial Service, the seventh annual commemoration at City of Hope.
“Upon entering the auditorium, we viewed a continuous visual screen of each child, which was very beautiful and moving,” said Randi McAllister, Ph.D., pediatric psychologist. The slide presentation marked the first time in the event’s history that organizers created a visual tribute to the children. Mitzi Morrison, senior secretary in the Division of Pediatrics, put together the tribute.
Chaplain Pam Baird of Spiritual Care Services conducted the service in English, while youth director and pastor Beatriz Zaldana from Christian Church Adonai in Reseda, Calif., led commemorations in Spanish. The service emphasized the mystery of death as transformation.
Called “The Mystery of Life and Death,” the memorial touched on themes carried throughout “Water Bugs and Dragonflies,” a book about explaining death to children. Families were each given a painted dragonfly on which to write the name of their child, McAllister said. Each family also took home a custom-made memory book.
Pediatrics staff members Ginger Minkler, R.N., Jo Ann Namm, C.C.L.S., Diana Huerta and McAllister provided readings during the service. Participants also included physician Clarke Anderson, M.D., Sue Harden, Ph.D., Valerie Riddel, L.C.S.W., Amy Tafel, M.S.W., Paula Ross, Teresa Ridley-Crouch and psychology intern Tanya St. John.
Philanthropia, a nonprofit outreach ministry of affiliated Southern California Greek Orthodox churches, supported the memorial service.