By Friday afternoon, the line for the Jet Ski was 10 children deep, and individuals had been gathered at Long Beach Marine Stadium since 9:00AM.
A pair of boys ran in the sand, through the lines and toward one of the inner tubes floating in the water. A casual onlooker would have no idea the majority of children had a terminal illness.
On Friday, the CSR Children’s Foundation hosted its 21st Annual Kid’s Day at Long Beach’s Marine Stadium, a free day full of water sports events for children with terminal illnesses at hospitals and clinics across the Los Angeles and Orange County regions.
CSR Children’s Foundation Chairman Jody Campbell said the event has grown from a few tents to over 800 children strong in the 16 years he’s been involved with the program.
“Lots of these kids don’t get to go to the beach,” said Campbell, a former water polo Olympian and Wilson High alumnus. “And look at them now—they’re still waiting in line for the jet skis.”
Long Beach mother Jennifer Whitney said her daughter looks forward to the event every year, as it gives her the chance to relax and enjoy the beach in a controlled group.
Her daughter is a patient at the Tichenor Orthopedic Clinic for Children and has Sensory Integration dsyfunction, where her brain cannot process sudden noise and visuals quickly enough. Whitney said her daughter is often overwhelmed in group settings.
“These children don’t get to the opportunity to participate in events the city and county have,” Whitney said.