A Miracle In May
By Katie Sweeney
For five weeks in 1987, Joan Anderson found herself living at Children's Hospital Los Angeles—staying day and night with her infant daughter, who needed surgery and treatment for a stomach blockage and infection.
"It was scary," Anderson recalls. "But my doctor, Dr. Robert Adler, was amazing, and I got to know and love all the nurses. From that day forward, I was a fan of Children's Hospital."
Although her daughter fully recovered, Anderson has returned to CHLA many times—not as the mother of a patient, but through her job as Los Angeles regional marketing manager for Costco Wholesale Corp.
Costco is one of CHLA's most generous and longstanding corporate benefactors, donating more than $26 million since 1995. The second floor of the Marion and John E. Anderson Pavilion is named The Costco Wholesale Floor, in recognition of a $10 million gift from the company in 2014. That same year, CHLA honored Costco for its support at the hospital's biennial fundraising gala.
"It's amazing how many employees I meet who have been helped by CHLA. For me, it motivates me to try to raise even more money next year. Children's Hospital touches everyone." — Joan Anderson
A major part of that support comes through the company's annual fundraising campaign for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, which supports local children's hospitals around the country, including CHLA. Joan Anderson spearheads that campaign for the Los Angeles region every year. And as you might expect, it's close to her heart.
"It means a lot to me," says Anderson, who has worked for Costco for 33 years. "I have always felt that my employer has taken care of my family, but I love that we're also taking care of the community's families by supporting Children's Miracle Network Hospitals and Children's Hospital Los Angeles."
The month-long fundraising campaign takes place every May in Costco stores. Members contribute by purchasing "Miracle Balloon" paper icons, which are proudly displayed in the stores. The company also raises money through an annual golf tournament and matches a percentage of the stores' fundraising.
But the biggest key to the campaign is the employees themselves.
"Some of our employees think all year long about how to raise more money for Children's Hospital," Anderson says. "I've had employees wear a hospital smock to work the entire month of May, just to draw attention to the cause, while others design amazing works of art out of the balloon icons."
One store manager organized a "Boonies to the Beach" annual bike ride in Orange County to support the campaign. Another location rallied to boost its fundraising from $14,000 to $82,000 in just one year—and then raised over $100,000 the next year. Employees around the region have also begun volunteering at CHLA, passing out coffee, tea and snacks to patients and staff.
Their dedication is driven by a desire to help their community, but like Anderson, many employees have also had firsthand experience at Children's Hospital. Last year, she was taking a tour of CHLA with Caton Frates Jr., Costco's senior vice president for the Los Angeles region, when they bumped into an assistant general manager from Costco whose child was undergoing surgery.
"It's part of our corporate mission to help improve the communities where we operate." — Caton Frates Jr.
For Frates, the experience was more validation of the impact of Costco's support. Every year, he buys and eats lunch with the store that raises the most in the campaign's final week.
"Costco is extremely proud to support Children's Hospital Los Angeles," Frates says. "It's part of our corporate mission to help improve the communities where we operate, and as one of the nation's top pediatric hospitals, Children's Hospital Los Angeles makes a lifesaving difference for families throughout our region, including those of our own employees and members."
Anderson will certainly never forget the difference CHLA made in her life. Today, her daughter is a mom with two children of her own. Throughout Costco, Anderson has met countless other grateful families.
"It's amazing how many employees I meet who have been helped by Children's Hospital Los Angeles," she says. "For me, it motivates me to try to raise even more money next year. Children's Hospital touches everyone."