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My inspiring hero Tianna Li

Tianna Li with Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake
Tianna Li with Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake
Chris Polk

I met Tianna Li briefly at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles annual “Prom” event in 2007. Attending this very special event and meeting Tianna and a few of the other CHLA patients that night touched my soul in a very deep and meaningful way. I knew right then that I had to get involved with the important work that the hospital was doing in the community.

I took a tour of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles shortly thereafter and was amazed at the life saving and quality of life improving work being done to help so many children in need. After my moving hospital tour, I decided to start producing charity benefits to raise funds and awareness for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. It was through my 2008 Holiday campaign for the hospital where I truly got to know this remarkable young woman. Denise Muniz, The Assistant Vice President of Children’s Miracle Network at the time, said she had the perfect person to be the CHLA teen ambassador for our holiday campaign. She told me the story of the incredible physical hardship that Tianna had survived with her very rare illness that she was diagnosed with when she was just a little girl. She said that no matter how hard it got for Tianna, she never complained because she was just happy to be alive. Tianna’s mother doesn’t speak English, and so Tianna was forced to communicate with her team of doctors and then translate everything in Chinese for her mother. Tianna handled herself like a mature adult during what truly was a very difficult time for her as a child. Denise raved about this bubbly, energetic, charismatic, caring and intelligent teen. Tianna turned out to be everything and more that Denise described. Tianna exceeded my expectations when I reconnected with her.

Tianna shared the stage at the star-studded red carpet benefit I produced for CHLA with our celebrity hosts Jessica Biel, Justin Timberlake and Kevin James, but those megawatt stars were upstaged by the dynamo that is Tianna Li. The 800 plus guests at my benefit were hanging on Tianna’s every word as she explained how CHLA saved her life and how every penny raised at the benefit would help other children like her in need. During our live auction when Justin Timberlake was trying to get the bid up on a priceless experience package, Tianna grabbed the microphone, and with a few heartfelt words from her, hands from all over the room shot up, and suddenly we were raising triple the funds for the hospital. Tianna played a huge part in helping us reach our goals of purchasing a new ventilator for the neo-natal unit of the hospital, providing art and music therapy for hundreds of in-patient children and sending children with cancer to a fun-filled summer camp for two weeks.

Tianna also walked the red carpet at the benefit and handled herself like a pro when asked tough questions from the media about medical condition and the healthcare provided at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. At such a young age, Tianna demonstrated poise, grace and humility.

Since that event, Tianna has served as an ambassador for CHLA at all of the charity benefits that I have produced for the hospital over the years. She is such an incredible representative for CHLA and always makes the parties have a much deeper purpose when she shares her story with our guests. She has demonstrated elegance and a true talent for eloquent extemporaneous speaking far beyond her years.

I have come to appreciate Tianna Li over the last four years that I have known her, as one of the most special people I have ever met. I can honestly say that my life is better from knowing Tianna. It is not often that a person gets the chance to say that about another human being.

Tianna has been very active in helping to organize Dance Marathons to benefit Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. She also dreams of starting her own non-profit as a conduit of continuing to raise money and awareness for her beloved Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Tianna wrote the following to me last year about the non-profit she wishes to create: “Our mission is to generate funds and awareness for Children's Hospital Los Angeles, while uniting patients and families in the battle against chronic and terminal medical conditions. We hope to make a difference in the world of children's hospitals. Our vision is to provide hope, funding, and awareness to every children's hospital in the nation. We hope to unite all children's hospital patients and families in the battle against chronic and terminal medical conditions throughout the United States. We want every patient to feel like a superstar in their own lives. We want them to know that there is hope and that anything can happen when you just "believe.”

Tianna’s mission statement for her non-profit speaks to the wonderfully giving and selfless human being that she is. She has spent countless hours hard at work researching what it takes to start a non-profit and I am confident that she will make her dream a reality. Tianna is tenacious. She never gives up. As someone that has spent my entire career helping to raise tens of millions of dollars for non-profits, I can tell you that Tianna’s determination and commitment will serve her well in her continuing role as a dedicated and successful fundraiser for children in need.

Tianna has also been an active member of her Speech & Debate team at school. As a former competitor during my middle and high school years, I have enjoyed following up on Tianna’s practices and her successful competitions. When Tianna does something, she gives 110% and that is a major ingredient in what is bound to make her a massive success in life.

Tianna has aspirations of pursuing a career in marketing after college, which she is so perfectly suited for. She has tremendous experience, which she gained over the years as a CHLA ambassador. Her upcoming role this year, assisting me on marketing, publicity and production on star-studded and press worthy events around the GRAMMYS, Oscars and other high profile entertainment and sports events, will give Tianna a behind the scenes opportunity to work in her dream field. I can only hope that when she graduates from college, that she will come back and work with my company, as we would be lucky to have her on our team full time.

Tianna is currently applying for college and to some amazing institutions across the U.S. Her family doesn't have the means to afford Tianna's college education and so she is applying for every possible scholarship program she is eligble for. There is no doubt that on the merits of Tianna's academic achievements, extra-curricular activities and plethora of community service projects, that she deserves to be awarded a scholarship to help defray the cost of her education.

I can say without a doubt that Tianni Li would be an incredible asset to whatever university is fortunate enough to have her attend. Not only will Tianna rise to the challenge in her studies, but she will also be a leader amongst her peers and a socially responsible and active citizen who will continue to do her part to make the world a better place in every way she can. Tianna is someone who was born to touch people, to inspire others and to bring out the best in everyone she meets. Tianna will always be a positive reflection on the college she attends and her alma mater, just like the rest of the world, will be left better than when she found it.

Tianna is one of my personal heroes. I will forever be uplifted by her positivity, strength, beautiful energy and bright smile for everyone she meets. Tianna is a role model for both children and adults to overcome whatever adversity we are faced with and to do it with a smile.


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