Rady Children's Hospital Auxiliary

Auxiliary President, Laura Stearn

I was fortunate enough to grow up in Santa Barbara. I didn’t appreciate it then, but I definitely do now. I have many fond memories of spending summers at the beach with my parents and younger brother and then later on, with my friends. We grew up away from any family. Both of my parents were from the East Coast and were the only ones to leave the area. They were first generation Americans, with parents that had immigrated from Italy. Even though we didn’t live close to family, we found ways to honor our Italian heritage and I made sure to give my two boys Italian names. They don’t look Italian, and I even have a red head, but I feel it’s important to know where they are from.

I wasn’t much of a sports kid and I eventually found myself participating in school plays and doing some local summertime acting classes. By the time I reached high school, I was already very interested in acting and performed on stage during my high school years. I wrote a few scripts for our Christmas shows as well as worked behind the scenes doing props and make up. The friends I met during those years are still some of my closest.

After graduation, I pursued a degree in Business at the University of California, Riverside. You might be wondering why I didn’t stay and go to school in Santa Barbara. It was time to leave the sleepy, small town and branch out. I stopped acting and focused on my studies. After graduation, I ended up in San Diego. I had a few college roommates who were from the Point Loma area so I spent a lot of time down here during college and loved it. Plus, it’s very challenging to find a job in Santa Barbara!

I was in sales and management for several years and it was during this time I met my future husband, Jon, at the Barefoot Bar one Sunday afternoon in May. I was 25 when we met and 28 when we got married. He was a Naval Officer on a submarine at the time. He decided to get out of the Navy and took a job in Virginia. So, this California girl packed up and moved across the country. It was a tough adjustment for me as we lived in a small town and nowhere close to the beach. We ended up moving back to San Diego a year and a half later.

I was now was working in the Human Resources field and found a job doing worker’s compensation management back in San Diego. A few years into that, I was pregnant and planning a family. I had a baby boy on July 13, 2001 and we named him Dominic Michael. 13 months later, I gave birth to our 2nd son, Nicolas Angelo. Yes, that’s right. 13 months!

Nicolas was very ill as soon as he arrived. He had a llfe threatening heart condition called Transposition of the Great Arteries and he was rushed down to Children’s Hospital. On day five he had an almost six hour open heart surgery to repair his congenital heart defect. As any parent could imagine, it was a very stressful time. He was in the hospital for three weeks recovering. Once we brought him home, we were at Rady Children’s often for tests and checkups. Our family was very grateful for the care he received and I told myself that one day I hoped to be able to repay them for everything they did to save Nicolas’ life.

Fast forward 4 years – I saw an advertisement for a local Auxiliary unit’s event in the newspaper. The North Coast Unit was hosting a fundraiser benefitting the Heart Institute. My husband and I attended the event and a few months later, I joined the unit and have been a member for 13 years. It’s been a wonderful way to give back. I have served on my unit board for 12 years as well as 3 years on the Auxiliary Board of Directors. I am currently on the Genomic Steering Committee and am back on the board as the President Elect. Never in my wildest imagination would I have predicted that having a critically ill baby would lead to being an advocate and fundraiser for Rady Children’s. I have formed many close friendships both in my unit as well as in other units which has been a bonus of the many hours of volunteering on behalf of Rady Children’s.

When I am not at a Rady Children’s meeting, you might find me making jewelry, reading, or going to a movie. I love to travel and some of my favorite places are Hawaii, Italy and Australia. With two boys, my life has been spent on the baseball field watching them play and as such, I spend a lot of time at Padre games and working our way to visit all the MLB baseball parks. Dominic is now a Sr. and deciding about colleges and Nicolas is a Jr. and not far behind.