If you’ve ever participated in the CHOC Walk at Disneyland over the past 18 years, more than likely you have seen prize captain Danielle Groen, a 30-year childhood cancer survivor, in her familiar spot behind the t-shirt table. With her caring spirit, she’s proud of her role ensuring fellow CHOC Walk volunteers are hydrated and fed. “If you ask people who work at the Walk, I’m the one who makes sure everyone is okay,” Danielle says. “We have some incredible sponsors who donate lunch and dinner. Because of them, I’m able to make sure everyone is taken care of.”
Danielle’s relationship with CHOC Children’s began in 1984, when she was just four years old and diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia, an aggressive type of cancer in which there are too many immature blood-forming cells in the blood and bone marrow. “What they didn’t know then was that there are a lot of side effects,” Danielle recalls. “My leukemia formed a soft tumor behind my left eye, so I’m partially blind in that eye.” The radiation also caused her to need jaw and cataract surgery and left her with a learning disability.
After four years of chemotherapy and radiation, Danielle went into remission and has stayed there ever since. But that didn’t end her relationship with CHOC. In fact, it was just the beginning. She began volunteering at the hospital while working toward her college degree, then joined the CHOC Walk team in 2002. She is also a member of the Lamplighter Guild and helps with fundraising events for the hospital.
But all of that wasn’t enough for Danielle and her husband, Eric. Together, they decided to put CHOC Children’s in their estate plan, committing a significant portion to support future oncology patients and earning them our first-ever CHOC Walk Legacy Trailblazer Award for planned giving. “I know firsthand how well they treat children at CHOC,” Danielle explains. “I wanted to give thanks for all of the people who helped me when I had cancer. ‘Long live childhood’ is more than a motto to CHOC. They do everything they can to make life as normal as possible for kids every day, whether it’s by taking them trick or treating through the hospital or having an oncology prom for teenage patients.”
Danielle’s legacy will help CHOC give children facing cancer the best chance to survive and thrive. To find out more information about putting CHOC in your estate plan, contact Denise Ogawa at email@example.com.