In your hometown with…the Escoto family

Mar 13, 2024

No one can predict when and where they’ll fall in love. What might seem like a small or random connection between two people can often blossom into something deep and purposeful over time. This is what happened to Henry and Jamie Escoto, who started as co-workers 14 years ago and are now discovering their own larger purpose of bringing awareness to a deadly disease while discovering the joys of family life along the way.

Henry and Jamie met while working in Digital Media at Fox Studios in Century City back in 2010.

“When I met Henry, I was in Product Development for our back-end digital media systems. He oversaw UX and visual design for our consumer-facing applications. He worked on American Idol, but that was before I started,” Jamie says.

For Henry, Jamie’s strong work ethic and upbeat nature allowed their work relationship to become a solid friendship.

“I met her, and we became good friends. I think the aspects of how she was brought up, there were similarities between how we were both raised, the importance of family–we just clicked,” says Henry, who grew up with a close-knit family in Honduras before coming to Los Angeles in 1987.

Henry had one pesky dilemma, however, that was keeping him from asking Jamie on a date.

 “I had a rule I would never date anybody from work. I kept that rule very clean until she decided to show up,” he says with a smile, because we all know rules were made to be broken. 

With the help of a couple of cats–one fictional and one real–romance soon began to blossom.

“He invited me to a Hello Kitty convention as friends. We both dressed up for it,” says Jamie.

She dressed as Hello Kitty, with a red puffy bow in her hair and he dressed as Bad Badtz-Maru, a black penguin with spiky hair. But it was Jamie’s sister who suspected the pair shared more than a fondness for the iconic Sanrio characters.

“My sister was like, ‘There’s no way that this guy does not like you if he’s willing to go to a Hello Kitty convention with you!’” says Jamie.

But it was another feline–Jamie’s own cat–that helped seal the deal.

“It was my birthday and I needed a ride to the airport because I was going to Chicago, which is where I’m originally from,” says Jamie.

Henry came to pick her up, and while Jamie finished packing her suitcase, he waited patiently for her on the living room couch–where he fell asleep.

“My cat who didn’t like any males, was sitting on top of him while he napped! And just as I walked out of my bedroom, my cat’s head popped up over the couch, and he was looking at me and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh! My cat likes this guy.’ I then realized I might like him, too. So that’s where it started and then after the company holiday party is when he shared that he wanted to take things to the next level,” she says.

Jamie and Henry were married in 2013. Both wanted to have a family so they decided to put down roots in Westchester, where they bought a home.

“We just really liked this neighborhood. Our block is so great; it’s a mix of generations here. You have older generations, younger families, families in their mid-range, older kids, young kids, so it’s a wonderful vibe,” says Henry.

They now have two sons, Lorenzo, 9, and Moisés, 5, who attend the Spanish immersion program at El Marino Language School in Culver City. Henry, a native Spanish speaker, only speaks to the boys in Spanish to help reinforce their bilingual education.

But there was another event that would greatly impact the lives of the Escotos. Jamie’s father, Dr. Jaime J. Hilao, remembered affectionately as “Papa Jimmy,” developed lung cancer. He passed away from the disease in 2014, just three and a half months after his diagnosis.

“It was rough. My dad got really sick very quickly. I mean Henry was obviously there through all of it. It was before either of our kids were born. Nine or 10 months after we buried him is when we had Lorenzo,” Jamie says.

As a new mom, Jamie needed to process the pain of losing her dad with the goal of transforming that pain into power.

“I wanted to do something about it, and take action because I didn’t want my dad’s story to end there,” she says.

Jamie began to volunteer for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), advocating for cancer screenings and lobbying for research funding.

Her hard work has paid off. Just last month, she was named State Lead Ambassador for ACS CAN, and Jamie couldn’t be more proud to work with California’s U.S. Senators. Currently, she’s urging them to increase access to the Every Woman Counts program, which helps thousands of women get potentially lifesaving breast and cervical cancer screenings.

As much as Jamie thrives on being an advocate for others, it’s important for her to keep Papa Jimmy’s spirit alive with her own family. One way she does that is through an annual fundraising campaign called Lights of Hope.

 “We collect donations for bags that we decorate honoring loved ones impacted by cancer. You can give us a message to put on those bags, either in an at-home display or as part of the display that’s in Washington, D.C., where there are tens of thousands of bags grouped by state that send a visible message to our lawmakers that they need to make cancer a priority,” she says. 

For Henry, it’s important to get the entire family involved.

“I mean, it’s a terrible disease. It takes so many lives. But I think the hardest thing was just seeing her father go through something like that. Anything that we can do to help bring awareness and help future generations, why not? It’s important,” he says.

Though Lorenzo and Moisés never knew Papa Jimmy, they know he was a loving role model for Jamie and joyfully help to keep his memory alive.

In a video Henry shot to promote the ACS CAN’s Lights of Hope message, little Lorenzo says, “Cancer is many broken cells in your body, and it does not know the job it needs to do… I’m a cancer fighter for Papa Jimmy.”

Such a profound, caring sentiment for a young child who enjoys making Lights of Hope bags with drawings of ninjas fighting cancer.

In her official volunteer role as the State Lead Ambassador for the nonprofit, Jamie hopes to start open conversations around the dangers of flavored tobacco products and vaping.

“It looks like candy, but it’s not candy. Vaping is smoking, right? So, it’s about being more forthcoming about information in ways that our generation didn’t have,” she says.

It’s a long road to ending cancer, but luckily, the whole family is up for the journey. Last year, Jamie was one of the top four national fundraisers for Lights of Hope, raising more than $14,000. Due in part to her efforts, California was the top fundraising state, raising more than $120,000 overall.

“I feel so blessed to have the support of my husband and my kids. They know that this is my passion outside of work, and I feel blessed that, as a family, we are able to honor my dad,” she says.

To learn more about ACS CAN or to get involved, visit

Story by Shanee Edwards. Photo by Zsuzsi Steiner.

Sign up for our monthly newsletter!