I remember the moment like it was yesterday. When I was 10-years-old, my parents, brother, sister and I hit the road on a warm summer day and drove from our home in Oklahoma City to Anaheim, California. Throughout the two-day drive, I dreamed and fantasized about this magical place called Disneyland that I had only seen on TV. What would it look like in person? Would I enjoy the rides? Is it really the happiest place on Earth?
Our excitement was palpable as my dad drove up to the park. I was just about to jump out of my skin when we descended upon the iconic gates of the Magic Kingdom. I stood at the entrance with my family in awe and remember thinking this was the most wonderful thing that had ever happened to me. I was so happy!
My experience walking through the Magic Kingdom was even better than I imagined. The park’s grounds were spotless, the cast members were impeccably dressed and so welcoming, and Disney’s attention to every single detail was unmatched. The rides were amazing, but none compared to “It’s a Small World.”
My brother, sister and I rode it countless times … we couldn’t get enough! Every time we were in the boat gliding through the iconic scenes, I noticed something different. But, what I noticed every time and thought was special, even at a young age, was the depiction of all of the different characters from various backgrounds, all with different gifts and attributes, who were all part of one awesome world. It was so beautiful!
Now, more than 50 years later, my childhood memories are coming to life at Texas Children’s as we gear up for the launch of the Disney Team of Heroes pilot on April 17. I am instantly reminded of the feeling I got when I was 10 years old, as I recognize how special it is that we are all from different backgrounds, all with different gifts, and all an integral part of our one amazing team.
The eye-catching murals you see going up around the hospital were designed by an incredibly talented artist named Joey Chou. If you look closely, you’ll recognize the design and color schemes of his work, inspired by my favorite ride and its artist, Mary Blair. It feels like my first trip to Disneyland has come full circle.
I am immensely proud Texas Children’s was chosen as Disney’s first partner in this exciting initiative. The company’s CEO, Bob Iger, recognized what I have always known to be true – Texas Children’s is not only the preeminent place for children to receive care, but our commitment to the patient family experience is incomparable. His focus is to bring the best of Disney’s storytelling and experiences to Texas Children’s in a way that delivers comfort and inspiration to our patients and their families. I know that by working together on this pilot, we will drive our expansion efforts across our system and in other children’s hospitals across the globe as well.
Like me, many of you have similar stories and memories about your visits to a Disney park and are thrilled to watch this partnership come to fruition. My hope is that even though some of our patients and families cannot experience an actual Disney park, we will be able to bring some of the Disney magic to them – and to all of you – here at Texas Children’s.
It really is a small world, after all.
Click here to read an FAQ about our partnership with Disney.