They ran, dashed, skipped, walked, toddled and literally strolled around the “track” at Turtle Rock Preschool on March 19. According to president and owner Maajed Abahusayn, the preschool’s Kids’ on the Move-A-Thon was about “kids helping kids.”
With COVID-19 protocols in place, the long-time Irvine school forged ahead with its annual fundraiser. Every dollar of the nearly $44,000 raised from 380 individual contributions went toward CHOC’s Cherese Mari Laulhere Child Life Department.
Turtle Rock has been raising funds for CHOC since 2012. Over those years, this annual event has raised a total of almost $250,000 to further our mission.
The school’s parking lot was turned into a track and adorned with giant balloons spelling out “CHOC” among a crowd of other balloons. Highlights included a thrilling “color run,” when teachers showered the delighted boys and girls with color dust, as well as a DJ playing live music and encouraging the students’ progress. Not to mention a guest appearance by our lovable mascot, Choco the bear.
Maajed explains, “The reason we call it a Move-A-Thon is because our youngest kids can’t even walk yet. So, they go around in a stroller to join in the fun. And then, of course, as they get older, they begin to walk and jog. Our kindergartners take it very seriously and run their hearts out.”
In addition, the day was live-streamed over Zoom this year for the first time. That way, parents who were at home or work were still able to cheer on the children. The kids loved waving to mom and dad as they ran past the camera.
Along with all the excitement, Maajed stresses that the Kids’ on the Move-A-Thon is also about much more: “We want to really focus more on our community and find a way to give back.”
To Maajed, having a child himself with a serious medical condition brought home the importance of being able to access CHOC’s world-class care and resources.
“I really became personally affected when my son was born in 2010,” Maajed remembers. “He had heart surgery at CHOC when he was just six days old. That’s a life-changing experience for any parent and any family to go through. It really gave me a unique appreciation for young children’s health and some of the incredible work that’s done at CHOC.”
Today his son is doing great, without any long-term concerns.
Then again, Maajed’s own family is far from alone in depending on CHOC for outstanding and compassionate care. He says, “There are many families at Turtle Rock, including others on our administrative team, who may have had to go to CHOC. If you have a young child in Orange County and you need some serious medical attention or a specialist, there’s really only one place to go and that’s CHOC. We knew that would be meaningful to our families. We knew it would generate a lot of interest and be the right thing to do. That’s why we’re really dedicated to helping out CHOC.”
In this same spirit of generosity, Maajed emphasizes that “a lot of other families in Orange County can’t afford care or don’t have insurance and just need assistance. We’re really glad to play a part in supporting the hospital in general and all the good work it does.”
Throughout March, in conjunction with their Kids’ on the Move-A-Thon, Turtle Rock Preschool teachers discuss kindness with their students. According to Maajed, “We talk about taking care of others and doing good in your community and giving back.”
He declares, “It makes you feel extremely lucky you have this sort of hospital nearby. But also, you feel a sense of obligation to do your part to make sure we can all benefit from it. We want to make sure everybody else gets to benefit from it too, regardless of their financial condition or any other barrier. CHOC is here to help children and that’s the line of work we’re also in.”
All of us at CHOC are deeply grateful to the staff, parents and especially the young students who made the 2021 Kids’ on the Move-A-Thon the most successful ever. Congratulations and thank you, Turtle Rock. You really do rock!