Funds Will Support Outdoor Therapy Track in Future Cherese Mari Laulhere Children’s Village


MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach received an unexpected charitable grant of $50,000 from the Valero Benefit for Children this year, despite the cancellation of the Valero Texas Open golf tournament and associated events due to COVID-19.

The funds will be used toward the construction of an ambulation track in the outdoor therapy yard of the future Cherese Mari Laulhere Children’s Village, which will open in early 2021 at Miller Children’s & Women’s.

“During this incredibly challenging year, we’re astounded by the continued generosity of the Valero Benefit for Children,” says Sharon Thornton, president, Miller Children’s & Women’s Foundation. “The Children’s Village will transform the way we provide care to thousands of children across the region, and this gift will allow us to move one step closer to providing a new level of care for those who need it most.”

The Children’s Village will be an 80,000 sq. ft., four-story building located conveniently next to the main hospital entrance. In this building, a child and their family can see their pediatric specialty doctor in an outpatient setting while accessing a variety of health services including rehabilitation therapies — all under one roof.

The first floor of the building will feature three unique rehabilitation gyms designed specifically to cater to the needs of patients of different age groups. The three gyms will connect to an outdoor therapy yard, that will include a custom designed ambulation track, which Valero’s gift supports.

Ambulation is the ability to walk without the need for any kind of assistance. This track will help patients at Miller Children’s & Women’s reach their ambulation goals after a surgery, serious injury or other illness.

“There are so many uses for the track,” says Chris Marten, manager, Rehabilitation Center, Miller Children’s & Women’s. “It will give our rehabilitation therapists the ability to be creative and make therapy sessions fun for kids of all ages. It also gets our patients outdoors and in a natural environment, which is beneficial to their recovery.”

The track will be painted in vibrant colors and have numbers on it. Patients will be able to walk, hop or use a scooter or tricycle around the track.  

“Because the design incorporates different colors and numbers, it can be used for a variety of therapies, including physical, occupational and speech therapy,” says Marten. “For example, a child with a brain injury could use the numbers on the track as a fun challenge to follow certain sequences. This activity supports their physical and cognitive recovery simultaneously.”

Due to the incredible generosity of Valero’s business partners, donors and sponsors, more than $14 million in net proceeds from the Valero Texas Open will be distributed to agencies across the United States, fueling the work of hundreds of charity partners, like Miller Children’s & Women’s, when the need has never been greater.