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Panda Cares Charity Golf Invitational celebrates Miracle Kid Sasha

On a recent sunny Thursday, hundreds of golfers joined the Panda Cares Foundation at the Omni La Costa and the Park Hyatt Aviara in Carlsbad, California to raise money for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) and other charitable causes chosen by Panda Restaurant Group.

The event raised over $3 million with CHLA receiving $350,000 for the hospital’s Children’s Fund.

As a touching surprise to attendees this year, special guest and miracle child Sasha and her mom Isabell, the founders of The Sasha Project LA, joined the awards dinner on Thursday evening. Sasha donated two of her hand-painted jackets to the live auction. The $14,100 raised from the jackets went to The Sasha Project LA, supporting the Mark Taper-Johnny Mercer Artists Program at CHLA.

The Sasha Project LA is dedicated to raising awareness and funds for The Mark Taper-Johnny Mercer Artists Program at CHLA, helping patients heal through art. The Mark Taper-Johnny Mercer Artists Program provides opportunities for patients and families to express themselves through visual arts, music, poetry, dance and theater. The program gives children an outlet to explore feelings of anxiety, frustration or grief as they face the challenges of treatment and recovery.

The Artists Program also helps fund the Handy Heroes Therapy Camp, a summer day camp program designed specifically for children with hemiparesis, a condition which often limits a child’s ability to use one side of the body due to lack of strength, coordination, and motor skills. Sasha spends two weeks at CHLA’s Handy Heroes Occupational Summer camp every year, where she first encountered art therapy.

Painting denim began as a fun craft as well as art therapy for Sasha. As she began to enjoy making art in her backyard, Sasha, with the help of her mom, came up with the idea to give back to her community. After they gave the idea more thought, Sasha and her mom decided to take their idea one step further, and established a nonprofit organization, The Sasha Project LA.

Sasha came into this world having suffered a stroke during childbirth. From the day she was born, Sasha has been living with Cerebral Palsy (CP) and Seizure Disorder. To help manage and improve the physical challenges of her CP, she participates in strength building activities like hippotherapy (therapeutic horseback riding), rock climbing and attends physical and occupational therapy every week.

CHLA has been a second home to Sasha. From emergency admittance for seizures to check-ups to physical therapy, the doctors, nurses, therapists and staff have been there every step of the way. Most recently, Sasha underwent an innovative and corrective leg surgery. The surgery left her in a full leg cast for eight weeks. Although the recovery process was challenging, she exceeded her doctor’s expectations, making a quick recovery and walking by the end of the summer.

One-hundred percent of the proceeds from The Sasha Project LA are donated to CHLA’s art therapy programs, programs that have helped Sasha heal through art. On every piece of denim Sasha paints, there are three hearts that represent “healing through art.”

Sasha has represented the 10 million children treated in Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals each year as a national goodwill ambassador during 2018 and helped share the need for donations to children’s hospitals across the United States.

The Panda Cares Foundation was established to share Panda Restaurant Group’s success with non-profit organizations serving in their communities. The main focus and passion of Panda Cares continues to be the health and education of underserved children.