Community Comes Through With 10,000 Paper Cranes for Todd Cancer Institute

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Paper Cranes for Todd Cancer Institute

Two fourth grade students from Signal Hill Elementary School pose next to a few of the cranes that their class created for the Todd Cancer Pavilion at Long Beach memorial.

Several months ago the MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute at Long Beach Memorial asked the community for 1,000 cranes. And instead, they got 10 times that. That’s right, 10,000 cranes were made in different shapes and sizes, some with well wishes, some with messages of hope, some just with a name written on it – maybe a survivor, maybe in memory of a loved one – but 10,000 none the less.

An old Japanese proverb is what inspired the MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute at Long Beach Memorial to come up with the idea of filling their 2,000 square foot lobby in its brand-new Todd Cancer Pavilion with paper cranes:

“He that folds 1,000 origami cranes will be granted a wish.”

The wish that the Todd Cancer Institute wants to fulfill: a cancer-free tomorrow. And apparently ten times as many crane-folders wanted to ensure this wish would one day be granted, or at least since they aren’t doctors, researchers and the developers of the cures of tomorrow – wanted to show their support and solidarity with those affected by cancer.

Some came with inspirational letters attached, some came in boxes, and some came in garbage bags full from elementary schools, churches, support groups, employees and friends. Some came from a local biotech company focused on targeting cancer; some came from Long Beach Memorial’s very own corporate office, MemorialCare Health System. Child Life Specialists made cranes with patients in the playrooms of Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach – and all for a common good and purpose…hope.

4th grade Signal Hill Elementary School teacher Denise Reid just happened to see in a local paper that the Todd Cancer Pavilion was looking for crane folders and hope seekers. Reid challenged her class of 8 and 9-year-olds to make 1,000 cranes before their spring bring break – just giving them over a few weeks.

She hung a butcher paper poster up in her classroom with a thermometer she drew with her very own markers and urged her students to be a part of something much larger than learning how to fold a very difficult-shaped crane out of origami paper. She wanted them to experience what it was like to be a part of something more and demonstrate to them the power of a “random act of kindness.”

Mrs. Reid went out and bought her very own origami paper and pushed her students to make this few week goal, not just for the cancer patients, or to ensure the Japanese legend would ring through, but to encourage her students that they too can challenge themselves to do more and be more. Although at times it got hairy, and there were times when the kids thought that final rung wouldn’t be filled in on their hand drawn thermometer, that last and final week united the entire class as they pushed through to get their 1,000 cranes done before break. Even if it meant folding 5-cranes was one of their last homework assignments.

The MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute at Long Beach Memorial is indebted and proud of the local communities and the outpour of employee support to make this dream a reality.

“I’m not surprised that we superseded our initial goal of 1,000 origami cranes,” says Cathy Kopy, executive director, MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute. “There was never a doubt in my mind that the community would pull through, but to pass our goal by ten times and to figure out a way to assemble an art piece out of 10,000 cranes, has been the greatest ‘hiccup’ we could have had in the feat of building and putting together this cancer center that truly envelops the integration of leading clinical cancer care and the wellness of the mind, body and spirit.”

The “community crane” art piece will be up soon, and community members and employees will get a chance to see this art work and get a sneak peak of the first public unveiling of the new Todd Cancer Pavilion, this Saturday, June 29 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Community members, employees, friends and family are encouraged to stop and hear from experts who work in the Todd Cancer Pavilion. There will be cancer education and awareness booths, tours throughout the day with the last tour at 12:45 p.m. Light refreshments will be served and the event and parking is free. The first 200 people also will get a free Todd Cancer Pavilion commemorative shirt.

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