By Joe Piasecki
Kids at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles can’t be home at Christmas, so Dave Venghaus Jr. brings the holiday to them.
On Monday, Venghaus — a Playa del Rey resident who did directing work on the Hollywood blockbusters “Forrest Gump” and “Catch Me If You Can” — and a young actor and musician who had been treated at the hospital helped Santa deliver toys to patients in the hospital’s rehabilitation wing, leaving others for kids too sick to visit.
The event continued a 10-year tradition of giving that dates back to the set of the film “Minority Report,” where Venghaus was doing assistant directing work.
During shooting, Venghaus met Chris Graves, a child actor who later came down with a debilitating case of the muscle inflammation disease dermatomyosytis. Graves was at one point so sick that he couldn’t walk, talk or eat, but recovered after months of treatment at Children’s Hospital. He has since gone on to continue acting and, with his brothers, formed a pop-rock band called The Graves.
Chris Graves, his family and Venghaus soon began an annual tradition of returning to the hospital at Christmastime with hundreds of gifts in hand.
“We have Santa pass out the toys and just follow along. We leave the extras for kids who we can’t visit directly,” Venghaus said. “We do it for the kids, and it was a huge success this year.”
Venghaus collected toys and raised donations for the hospital during a yacht party on Sunday in Marina del Rey attended by more than 300 people.