Above & Beyond the Call of Duty

A Story of a Father Who Gave Back When it Mattered Most

Pots of Gold Icon with Blue Background and Gold Ribbon


When Alan Van Tine decided to donate a Pot of Gold, he went above and beyond the call of duty -- not just because he is a trained naval officer, but because the donation was in remembrance of his beloved daughter.

Alan’s daughter Mila received her very own Pot of Gold before she died at the age of nine in 2014. Mila was diagnosed with neuroblastoma when she was four years old. Alan describes her as an “old soul,” who was interested in politics and dreamed of being a Navy nurse. She also loved helping others, and visited the homeless with him when she was healthy

Being in the Navy for 20 years, Alan felt it was important to raise Mila with a worldly view. “I wanted her to understand that not everyone is the same and some people are born with less, so that she would understand why people make the decisions they do,” he said. Mila lived in San Diego with her family, but often went for treatments in San Francisco. During the long drives, Mila and her dad listened to the radio and had thoughtful discussions.

“She had a pretty good grasp, I tried not to hide the real world from her,” Alan said. After months of treatments, Mila was in remission for a while, and then the cancer came back with a vengeance. That’s when Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego reached out to Gold Rush Cure on Mila’s behalf.

San Diego Gold Rush Chapter Pot of Gold Delivery

“She had an amazing reaction, it is an everlasting memory.”

Alan warmly remembers watching Mila unwrap every gift in her Pot of Gold. Mila had made a very detailed list, and every wish was granted.

Inside Mila’s Pot of Gold were lots of Lego sets, which have been passed on to her sister, and a San Diego Chargers blanket that her brother sleeps with now. She also got a gift certificate to the Red Lobster, where her family celebrates birthdays, and a Washington DC hoodie sweatshirt for her bucket list trip to the capital. She hoped to meet President Obama someday.

“She got everything she asked for, and everything she opened brought a big smile to her face” Alan says. “She had an amazing reaction, it is an everlasting memory.” After Mila passed away, Alan wanted to return the favor and help bring a smile to another sick child. So, he teamed up with several military buddies and adopted a Pot of Gold for a young girl with cancer named Kalani.

In what became a full circle moment, Kalani’s Pot of Gold overflowed with everything on her wish list, including lots of toys, gift certificates, and presents for her siblings. “Giving back is something Mila would have loved to be a part of,” Alan said. “She had a huge heart.”

Happily, Mila got to wear her hoodie to DC before she died. In fact, this little girl who inspired another Pot of Gold, even got to meet the President’s dogs, Bo and Sunny.

Kalani's Pot of Gold Delivery

Mila's Pot of Gold Delivery