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Meet the Miracle Maker: Joe Spagnoli

A miracle baby” himself, Joe Spagnoli knows the difference children’s hospitals can make. As a newborn, his life was saved at Oakland Children’s Hospital. Joe feels indebted to the doctors and nurses who allowed him a chance at a future, so he is deeply committed to helping other kids live long and healthy lives … just like he has!

Joe began supporting Children’s Miracle Network at UC Davis more than a decade ago, raising much needed funds for critical care. From repositioning the “Taste of Fair Oaks” to benefit CMN, to a softball tournament with local credit unions, Joe has pulled out all the stops to help kids at UC Davis Children’s Hospital. His latest brainchild, Rocktoberfest, is scheduled for Oct. 6, 2018. This event promises a fun night of music, food and drink, all to benefit CMN at UC Davis.

Rocktoberfest has morphed from a backyard pig roast the last two years, to a bash at Lake Park at WoodBridge Ranch in Orangevale for the 3rd Annual event. Although the location has changed, the whole roasted pig dinner continues, plus this year, there will be live music by local band Auburn Road and beer, wine, whiskey and tequila tasting.

Joe Spagnoli, center back, as local band Auburn Road performs in the UC Davis Children’s Hospital playroom. He arranged this event so hospitalized kids and their families could enjoy some live music onsite.

How long have you been involved with Children’s Miracle Network at UC Davis? What has your involvement looked like over time? I was first asked to join the board in 2004. Not having really heard of CMN, I began to do some research. What I discovered reminded me of my own personal experience as a child. I didn’t really know all the details of my story, so I asked my parents about it. It was then I realized I was a “miracle baby.” Pretty cool!

There are so many good causes. Why did you choose to support UC Davis Children’s Hospital? There ARE so many great causes! But as a father having spent the first nine months of my life at Oakland Children’s Hospital, I knew this is where I needed to focus my time.

What is your favorite memory while supporting UC Davis Children’s Hospital? When I became chair of the CMN at UC Davis business advisory council, I was asked to go to the annual celebration at Disney World. It was the most amazing trip! Seeing families and kids from around the country and experiencing the joy in that room really put into perspective how many lives CMN touches across the U.S.

How has being involved with UC Davis Children’s Hospital changed your life? Your family’s life? My daughters volunteer now, too. They feel connected to CMN because of me and my experience. My oldest daughter made CMN her senior project last year. She is now in college and hopes to run a non-profit organization one day.

For me personally, it’s been great to learn what a real gem UC Davis is. And it’s right here in my town! It’s amazing what the hospital does and the millions spent on equipment and supplies just for children. So awesome! It really touches me when I am in the NICU and see the nurses holding the smallest of babies. Every time I visit UC Davis Children’s Hospital, I come home, hug my girls and say thanks!

What motivates you as a volunteer? Breathing! I kid, but the fact is I am here because of some amazing doctors and nurses in Oakland 48 years ago. That is pretty motivating, as are the smiles of the beautiful kids and their families I have met over the years. There’s nothing better than seeing a little kid after they have beaten cancer. When you look really closely at this little person, past the smiles and giggles, you see a child warrior sitting there who just beat death but is grabbing a handful of Legos like nothing ever happened. These kids are my inspiration.

What do you think about every time you volunteer for UC Davis Children’s Hospital? I think, “Who am I going to educate about UC Davis Children’s Hospital today? Who am I going to share my enthusiasm with? And who am I going to get one more glass of wine before the auction closes?!”

What do you think is the most important thing people don’t know about this hospital? I don’t think people realize how large of an area is served by UC Davis Children’s Hospital (33 counties, 65,000 square miles). Families will travel here for a chance to get the best care.

What would you say to people about why they should invest in the health of children’s hospitals? I think it’s a worthwhile investment because you never know when it’s going to be your child, your niece or your cousin. If it is someone you know, do you want them to get the best care or just decent care? It takes money to have the best children’s hospital in Northern California. Money for equipment, research, education and treatment that’s suited to the needs of children. Plus, the money raised stays right here!