(ABC News) – When Peter Facinelli’s daughter Lola, 11, was younger, the “Twilight” star had to suffer through watching his sick little girl receive test after test in the hospital for weeks.
“A lot of scary words were thrown around — cancer and leukemia — they did a lot of tests, didn’t know what was wrong,” he told ABC News. “She ended up being okay, but I met a lot of parents while I was there that weren’t so fortunate. I met a lot of kids that weren’t so fortunate.”
For Facinelli, that experience spawned a desired to step up and help children suffering from cancer and fight the disease that his daughter fortunately didn’t have.
“When the ‘Twilight’ movies started up, I started going to children’s pediatric cancer wings with some of the other cast,” he said. “What I found was the hospitals weren’t filled with a lot of gloom and doom. It was a lot of hope from these kids.”
Facinelli even did personal autograph sessions that raised more than $100,000, which he donated to the cause.
The “Nurse Jackie” actor is also currently part of Aflac’s Duckprints campaign, which Facinelli said has raised more than $85 million for pediatric research. Getting involved is easy — Aflac will donate $2 for every hashtag #Duckprints via Twitter and other social media outlets.
While he still “prays every day” that his daughter’s illness doesn’t come back, Facinelli said he is just happy to be spending Christmas with Lola and his two other daughters, Luca, 16, and Fiona, 7.
Facinelli finalized his divorce from the girls’ mother Jennie Garth in June, so time with his kids is even more precious.
“I’m really excited to head back to Los Angeles and spend Christmas with my kids,” he said after a week in New York hanging with Luca, bringing her to the set of “Nurse Jackie” and taking her to see a Broadway show.
“Family time, good food and just spending time together. That sounds like a great Christmas holiday for me,” he added.
Facinelli said he’s in no rush to get married again. He’s been dating “Thor” star Jaimie Alexander for the past year.
“I’m just happy where I am right now,” he said.
As for what he wants for Christmas: “The only thing I want is a good night’s sleep,” he joked.