By FERMIN LEAL / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
ANAHEIM – Fireworks over Sleeping Beauty Castle and confetti canons along Main Street greeted more than 14,000 walkers arriving at dawn to Disneyland on Sunday for the 21st annual CHOC Walk at the Park.
About 750 teams completed the 5K course, raising $1.6 million for programs at Children’s Hospital of Orange County.
“There is nothing like seeing Main Street full with so many people coming together for such a good cause,” said Allen Fazio, a Disney vice president who sits on the CHOC Foundation’s board of directors.
Most teams walked in honor of patients treated by the hospital. Some carried banners with pictures of children who have died after illnesses. The route wove through Disneyland, Disney California Adventure and Downtown Disney. Mickey, Minnie and other Disney characters cheered on walkers.
One of the largest groups with nearly 300 walkers was Team Timmaree Rocks, named after Timmaree Hicks, who died from cancer three years ago at age 9. Team members wore turquoise shirts with a large butterfly logo that Timmaree had drawn while a patient at CHOC.
“We are all very grateful to CHOC for all the doctors, nurses and everyone did to help Timmaree,” said Debbie Hicks, the girl’s mother. “We will continue to come back each year because the money we raise will help save lives.”
The team has participated for four years and has helped raise more than $100,000 for the hospital.
Caroline Sunshine, actress in the Disney Channel’s show “Shake It Up,” was among the participants.
“I’ve been treated at CHOC. My family has been treated at CHOC,” said Sunshine, a Tustin resident who once suffered from chronic ear problems. “It’s very important for me to be here to thank the hospital for helping me throughout.”
The CHOC Walk began in 1991, running from the MainPlace Mall in Santa Ana to the Disneyland parking lot. Around 1,400 walkers participated that year. Ten years ago, the event moved to a course inside Disneyland. Disney’s involvement dates to the 1960s.
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