Between a local preview of his new flick, "True Lies," and the auction he con- ducted at Planet Hollywood last week, Arnold Schwarzenegger visited Children's Hospital of Orange County, passing out watches, hats, T-shirts and good cheer to ill children.
"We kept Arnold busy last Wednesday," said Frank DiBella, president and CEO of Planet Hollywood in Santa Ana. "First, he arrived by helicopter in the Westin hotel parking lot. Then he went to Edwards Cinema across from Planet Hollywood for a benefit for the Inner City Games Foundation.
"Then he went to CHOC for about two hours and visited the children. Then it was over to Planet Hollywood, where he conducted an auction for the Inner City Games cause."
The children loved their visit with the "Terminator," DiBella said. "One little 4-year-old boy stood up and told Arnold he'd seen all of his movies and named them all."
Schwarzenegger was touched. And so was DiBella. "It was my first visit to CHOC," DiBella said. "I wish everyone could go there and see what the hospital is doing for these sick kids.
"The kids are going through so much . . . and so are their parents, but the hospital keeps things as normal as possible for them. Arnold couldn't believe it."
Planet Hollywood became involved with CHOC last year when the hospital staged its annual CHOC Walk. "When the walkers passed by our area, we provided them with refreshments," DiBella said. "And we plan to get involved with CHOC Walk again this year."
Tom Arnold was also among guests at the Planet Hollywood benefit for the Inner City Games Foundation, a Los Angeles charity that provides sports activities for children at risk to join gangs. "He had a great time--really helped us out," DiBella said.
More than 300 people dined on mini-pizzas, turkey and Snickers' pie at the foundation benefit before they watched Schwarzenegger auction off such goodies as a hog-ride on his Harley. (Joseph Cavallo of Laguna Hills paid $6,500 for the chance.)
This week, CHOC CEO Thomas Jones said Schwarzenegger's visit provided his young patients with a real morale boost. "Arnold displayed sincere compassion and interest in the children," Jones said. "Rather than discuss himself or his movies, he was focused on asking the children questions about themselves and how they were feeling.
"One 7-year-old girl was having a very difficult day. Hours before, she had received a new I.V. in her foot. Arnold knelt down beside her wheelchair and spent several minutes coaxing a smile out of her.
"The positive emotional charge our kids got from Arnold's visit has lasted well into this week. The kids are still talking about it."