Conine Clubhouse 'A Godsend' for Families of Kids Treated at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital
January 24, 2024
Devan Voralia is “thriving” now, but that certainly wasn’t always the case. Born with a rare heart defect, lungs that didn’t fully develop, a backwards intestinal tract, and missing a spleen – all the result of genetic microdeletion syndrome – it had been a moment-to-moment existence for the child and his parents, Rajesh and Jignasha, in the first year or so of Devan’s life.
“My son was very near death on at least nine occasions and his most recent surgery lasted eleven hours,” said Rajesh Voralia, a Parkland resident. “But the multi-disciplinary care he received from the specialists and their teams at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital gave him an opportunity to survive, and he’s now developing as an almost 18-month-old should.”
Devan was hospitalized for months after his birth in 2022, and the Voralias spent that time living at the Conine Clubhouse in Hollywood, a hotel-like facility where families can stay for free while their son or daughter is being treated at the children’s hospital next door. “With our son’s condition so tenuous, having the clubhouse available to us was a godsend. We were able to get some rest and still be at his bedside in minutes when there was an emergency. It made all the difference for us,” said Voralia.
The yearly cost of operating the clubhouse and funding its current expansion to 27 rooms is underwritten by the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Foundation, primarily through fundraising events staged with Jeff and Cindy Conine. The couple recently hosted the 30th annual Conine All-Star Golf Classic and added to the more than $8 million dollars they have already helped raise for the cause, which has enabled more than 25,000 families to stay at the facility since it opened in 1997.
“We’re firm believers that families should remain close to their children during treatment, as Cindy and I were when our son was a baby,” said Conine. “We don’t want parents to have travel or financial burdens during what are already some of the most stressful times imaginable.”
The ongoing success of the celebrity golf tournament help alleviate those issues, with its 30-year run of success an anomaly among athlete-led fundraisers.
“Jeff and Cindy have been two of our greatest ambassadors and continue to make a difference for families impacted by pediatric health issues,” said Kevin Janser, president of the children’s hospital’s nonprofit foundation. “They committed to helping our community at the beginning of Jeff’s baseball career and have never stopped, even well into his retirement from the game. We’ve very blessed to have a three decade-long relationship with the Conines.”
While Devan will most likely need at least one more open-heart surgery as he grows, he’s doing well now, with appropriate energy and activity levels that have him making strides in the therapy he receives. Doctors predict that next procedure will be necessary in the next two to five years, and the Voralia family will once have access to the facility local philanthropy makes possible.
“The Conine Clubhouse is an extraordinary place, and we’re eternally indebted to everyone that makes it possible for families like ours,” said Voralia.