Annette and Richard Symons give to CHOC Children’s in multiple ways and for many reasons, but their multifaceted generosity can be encapsulated in just one statement: “We don’t think there’s any greater feeling than being able to help children.”
Last year, Annette and Richard committed $2 million to establish an endowment to support CHOC’s spiritual care program. This incredible gift is the culmination of a growing partnership spanning over a decade.
At the beginning of this partnership, when she was still a new member of the Small World Guild, Annette attended one of CHOC’s most successful fundraisers—the CHOC Walk in the Park presented by the Disneyland® Resort. “There was a little boy being pulled on a wagon,” Annette remembers. “He was probably about two or three years old, and he was carrying a sign that said, ‘CHOC Fixed my Heart.’ And I just melted. I thought: ‘that’s why we’re here, to be able to see this little child who has been saved because of his treatment at CHOC.’” Her experience at the Walk would lead to a long-time, passionate commitment to volunteering and advocating. She jumped into her Guild member duties, even serving a term as its president.
The care and comfort their own family received at CHOC made Richard feel compelled to get involved as well. “I remember the fantastic service we got from the staff at CHOC and the caring, comforting feeling we had,” he shares. “Annette and I lost our son at an early age. We know support is so important for times of grief.”
Then, the loss of a parent made Annette consider other ways to support the hospital they had come to love. “My parents were always donating or volunteering to one cause or another,” she says. “Philanthropy was something I learned by example.” Among the first to answer CHOC’s call for support of its philanthropically driven mental health initiative, the Symons family made a gift to name the inpatient center’s family lounge in loving memory of Annette’s parent.
When Annette and Richard learned about spiritual care at CHOC, they saw an opportunity that was a natural fit for the impact they wanted to create. “Everything is done with respect to the family’s needs and what suits them best,” explains Annette. “In my mind, putting such a tremendous focus on the whole family is what elevates CHOC from being a great children’s hospital to an outstanding children’s hospital.”
Annette and Richard look forward to deepening their philanthropy at CHOC. “To see our donations in action and the positive response from patients…it just keeps you wanting to do more,” says Annette. “I’ve always said that the more I learn about CHOC, the more amazed I become.”
“The mission continues here,” Annette shares. “It’s not a one-time thing. We’ll always have children. We’ll always have illness. And we need this hospital to continue this work.”