‘Ignite hope’ encourages families fighting illnesses or injuries during the holidays


The 8th Annual Ignite Hope, presented by Pizza Hut and 1Wish, returns Saturday, Dec. 14.

As Phoenix Children’s Hospital expands its reach across the state Ignite Hope will take place at two Valley locations --- the original at Phoenix Children’s Hospital and a new tradition in the West Valley at Phoenix Children’s Southwest Valley Specialty Care Center.

Both events will take place simultaneously.

Each anticipated event combines a holiday candlelight walk to show support for families coping with illnesses or injuries during the holiday season and a brief program showcasing stories of hope. For many the event has become an annual family tradition and opportunity to give back to the local community.

All proceeds from participant fundraising efforts benefit the Hospital’s Hope Fund.

The festivities kick off at North High School, 1101 E. Thomas Road, in central Phoenix, and Canyon Breeze Elementary School, 11675 W. Encanto Blvd., in the West Valley.

Each location’s event will include a family-friendly festival with face painting, superhero appearances, music and caroling, refreshments and an appearance from Santa himself. Registered walkers 4 years of age and older will receive battery-operated candles and commemorative t-shirts.

“I look forward to this uplifting event every year,” said Steve Schnall, senior vice president and chief development officer at Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation. “The holiday season is challenging for patients and families undergoing treatment. It’s a heartwarming experience to bring local communities together in a show of solidarity and support.”

The Ignite Hope tradition began in 2012. Friends and family of then 15-year-old Phoenix Children’s patient Katie Wagner held a candlelight vigil outside her hospital window after she was diagnosed with cancer. Katie participated in the first Ignite Hope walk. Sadly she passed away in September 2013.

The candlelight tradition has lived on in her remembrance to brighten the lives of patients while marshaling community spirit by raising funds for Phoenix Children’s.