CHOC Walk Ambassador

2024 CHOC Walk

July 21, 2024


Introducing Kara- Our 2024 CHOC Walk Ambassador




"Kara was born on April 7, 2011 at 2:19 p.m. at St. Joseph’s Hospital. It was a rather long delivery because even though parents take those prenatal courses, nothing really prepares you for actual childbirth. 

Finally, after four hours of pushing, Kara came into the world. We got to take our first look at our daughter, and the doctor let us hold her for a split second until the nurses took her to clean her up and take her vitals. We noticed her face appeared a little blue but thought it could be because of the birthing process. We were expecting that after her vitals were taken, we would be able to have skin-to-skin contact with her and enjoy counting her fingers and toes. 

Jennifer got to hold her again but only for a brief moment as we were told that Kara’s breathing was irregular and labored. The oxygen meter registered her oxygen level oscillating between the 70s and 80s, and we were told a normal blood oxygenated level should be in the mid to high 90s.  All that the nursing staff could really tell us was there may still be excess fluid in her lungs which Kara was not expelling naturally.

Shortly after that, the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) team came into our room, wheeling in an enclosed, glad mobile infant incubator. The doctor explained to us that Kara needed to be admitted into CHOC so they could run tests and further treatment. All this happened so quickly and within 10 minutes after her birth, we were separated.  The team at CHOC wheeled Kara through the underground tunnel connecting the two hospitals.  Bryan was able to walk with Kara and the NICU team from St. Joseph to CHOC. We don’t know what would have happened on that fateful day had we delivered at a different hospital."


     

"Kara was diagnosed with Respiratory Distress Syndrome and early-onset neonatal sepsis. We later found out how severe it could be. A newborn who has an infection and develops sepsis can have inflammation throughout their body. This inflammation and blood clotting causes reduced blood flow to your baby’s limbs and vital organs. It can lead to organ failure—and even death.

Kara spent exactly one week and one hour in the NICU. She went through one round of antibiotics and also some phototherapy for her jaundice. It looked like she was sunbathing. We went in every morning to be with her and hold her. It was a good transition for us as first-time parents because we practiced changing diapers and bottle feeding as we had her nurses watch over us. At the end of visiting hours, we had to go home, and the nurses assured us we could call them any time of the night to get updates on Kara. They were so sweet from the nurses near the bed to the lactation nurse.

Being first-time parents, we did as much as we could to prepare and welcome our daughter into the world. But we never imagined that something so precious and long waited for could be taken away from you so quickly. We have since never taken our daughter for granted.

While we were at CHOC, we met other families in the NICU. Some were patients for three months or longer with much more complicated symptoms and medical issues.  Hearing their stories and their experiences with CHOC, we knew that we could put our trust in CHOC. We never felt any doubt and considered ourselves extremely lucky that CHOC was able to give us back our daughter. Now she’s 12 years old and thriving.

We heard about CHOC Walk shortly after her 2nd birthday from Jennifer’s mom’s client. Knowing how much our family likes superheroes and that Kara is named after Supergirl, she encouraged us to go and dress up as superheroes. So, in 2013, our family of three, Bryan’s mom and Jennifer’s sister joined the walk as “Team Super Kara.” The following year, we grew to 12 members."

    
"CHOC didn’t only give us back our daughter, CHOC has given us a bond with those CHOC families in our community."

"Each year as we prepare for the walk, we are reminded of Kara’s birth and how grateful we are to those who allowed us to be parents. We look over pictures and watch videos and get inspired again to do more. We were also fortunate enough during our journey to meet other members of our community who CHOC has helped. When they heard about our team, they joined, and together, we walked for a common cause. CHOC didn’t only give us back our daughter, CHOC has given us a bond with those CHOC families in our community. As our members grew, we knew we had to change our team’s name to include as many friends as possible and so “Team Super Kara & Friends” was born.

CHOC Walk is such a magical event where you are inspired to do more and give back or get others involved. As you walk through Disneyland® park and Disney California Adventure® park, you witness patients, families, friends, colleagues, community members come together by the thousands rallying their appreciation for CHOC, rain or shine. It’s incredible.

We’ve had great support from our community during our first few years of asking for donations for the walk. In 2017, when Kara was six years old, our team decided to throw a small event in our garage called “Eat, Drink & Be Giving,” where we hosted food, drinks, kids’ activities and raffle prizes to raise funds and awareness. We wanted to give back to the community for their generous donation to CHOC. In subsequent years, business owners heard about our event and asked to host the event at their business location--some even donated their products for raffle tickets and sponsored catering. We were happy to bring our community together and raise awareness for CHOC."
    
"Kara strives to give back to CHOC so CHOC can continue to save children’s lives and help us build a better community and future because she believes 'Children are our future.'"

"In 2018, Kara submitted a video to the National PTA Reflections program about CHOC and what it meant to be a hero. She said, “A Hero doesn’t necessarily have to fight villains. A hero is an ordinary person who does extraordinary things.” This is what we see in CHOC. Kara strives to give back to CHOC so CHOC can continue to save children’s lives and help us build a better community and future because she believes “Children are our future.”

Kara wants to be able to include and inspire the youth in the community so that it’s never too early to give back. She has been given many opportunities in life to make her mark and wants to help give others the same opportunities as well."


-The Nguyen Family: Bryan, Jennifer, Kara, Cassie & Kristin