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It takes a community

When it comes to caring for kids, our community is always willing to lend a helping hand. In 2013, Children's experienced a record year of community engagement. From 3-year-olds who donated their birthday money to grandparents who encouraged a legacy of giving, one thing is undeniable: no matter how you chose to give back, your generosity makes a big difference for kids and families at Children's. Here's a snapshot of some of the unique forms of giving we witnessed in 2013.
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Cake & Candles Club 
On their special day, generous kids (and kids at heart) from across Minnesota are choosing to celebrate in a unique way. As members of Children's Cake & Candles Club, they enlist the help of their family and friends to support our patients. Instead of birthday gifts, members request that money, toys, books or blankets be sent to our hospitals. By helping out other kids, members are learning about the power of generosity...and getting a birthday experience they won't soon forget!

A class act
Students at Southwest High School in Minneapolis take giving back seriously. So seriously, in fact, that they raised more than $29,000 for Children's Cancer Kids Fund and the in-hospital Ronald McDonald House at Children's – Minneapolis. Students organized online fundraisers, friendly competitions between classrooms, T-shirt sales, toy drives and more – all in the name of helping kids. An A+ for effort? You bet!

Scouting for good
When two great organizations work together, inspiring things can happen for kids. In 2013, Children's launched our first ever Girl Scouts' Day to recognize the generous ways that troops have supported our cause – all while introducing them to careers in health care. Over 200 girls joined in the fun: meeting staff at Children's, enjoying activity stations and of course, taking time to strike a pose with Children's mascot, Twinkle!

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Kernels of kindness
In the fall of 2013, thousands of Minnesotans meandered through a stunning 20-acre corn maze as part of the Twin Cities Harvest Festival and Maze in Brooklyn Park. The Bouwman family, who founded the festival, is proud to help families create lasting memories. But they wanted to do more. To accomplish their goal,a portion of each ticket sold was designated to Children's, resulting in an "a-mazing" $15,000 donation to help kids and families.

A legacy of love
When members of the Children's Hospital Association (CHA) or The Children's Association – Minneapolis talk about their long-time volunteer efforts, one thing is unmistakable: their love of children runs deep. Through their ongoing work on behalf of Children's – St. Paul and Children's – Minneapolis, respectively, these dedicated groups serve as ambassadors to the community. They raise vital funds to support our mission – including the operation of gift shops at both hospitals – and most importantly, help Children's provide the very best care.

All-star supporters
Minnesota is home to many talented athletes. And while their play on the field is certainly impressive, it's their dedication to patients at Children's that makes them MVPs in our book. Whether they host a benefit event like Adrian Peterson, provide gaming systems like Chad Greenway, sponsor patient rooms like Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise or stop by to visit the hospitals, their kindness scores big points with our patients.

Innovation 

gavin innovationGavin Pierson is on a quest to beat his tumor, Joe Bully. Thanks to his pediatric neurosurgeon – Joseph Petronio, MD – and team at the Karen and George Benz Family Pediatric Neuroscience Center, Gavin has received some of the most innovative care available. The Center, which opened in December 2013, cares for more patients with neurological diagnoses than any other institution in the region while offering donor-funded support services that allow kids to be kids.

In 2012, then 6-year-old Gavin Pierson was diagnosed with a mature teratoma brain tumor. Located in an area that's difficult to operate, Gavin's doctors tried to attack the tumor with everything from highly invasive craniotomies to experimental drugs. But the tumor – which he called "Joe Bully" – kept growing back.

His neurosurgeon, Joseph Petronio, MD, wasn't ready to give up. He researched alternative options for treating Gavin's tumor and found a unique laser known as a Visualase. Using MRI imaging to precisely target tumors, followed by heat technology to reduce the size, the laser could be the answer to fight Joe Bully. The only problem – this minimally invasive laserhad a hefty price tag.

Philanthropists Gary and Helen Bergren believed this laser could help Gavin and other kids facing similar odds, so they provided a lead gift to assist with funding it. In addition, a social media push rallied the community's support. Because of this collective generosity, Children's is the first pediatric hospital in the Upper Midwest to have this innovative technology, and the only hospital who has ever utilized it to treat a teratoma. Over the course of eight months, Gavin underwent two Visualase procedures, which shrunk his tumor by 40 percent. And unlike his previous surgeries, he only had to spend a night or two in the hospital following the procedure.

"What's exciting to me is the path this technology opens to areas of the brain that were closed to us before," said Petronio. "To think we could reach a day when the term 'inoperable brain tumor' in children is obsolete is extraordinary."

This state-of-the-art technology – which can also be used to address brain lesions that cause epilepsy – will further our innovative work as one of the nation's top pediatric neurological programs.


innovation

Hands-on learning
Practice makes perfect. But when you care for little kids, who can you practice on? After seeing the success of our Mobile Education Unit, Children's decided to invest in a state-of-the art Simulation (SIM) Center to enhance clinical training. Through the support of philanthropy, the SIM Center will offer an immersive environment where teams of care providers can work on high-tech mannequins or run medical scenarios with actors. These activities will help them experience the visual, auditory and tactile cues found in actual clinical encounters, offering them a taste of real medical situations without any of the risk.

Fetal care at its finest
When it comes to caring for the tiniest and most fragile babies, Children's is the place to be. Thanks to advances in fetal medicine – including fetal surgery – we are able to detect, diagnose and treat potential problems before a baby is born. Children's is committed to innovating in this highly intricate field and set fetal medicine as a strategic priority in 2013. The Midwest Fetal Care Center, a collaboration between Children's and Abbott Northwestern Hospital, is bringing together the most highly-trained fetal, mom and baby experts and the latest treatments in a coordinated setting. And it's all thanks to donors who believe in the future of our littlest patients.

Children's comfort promise
One of the questions kids ask when headed to the hospital is "will it hurt?" At Children's, we're easing their fears through the innovative work of our internationally recognized team of pain, palliative and integrative medicine experts. Whether lessening anxiety about needles or managing pain following a complex surgery, we ensure kids are as comfortable as possible through a combination of integrative and drug therapies. Thanks to the tremendous generosity and passion of Kiran Stordalen and Horst Rechelbacher, Children's pain, palliative and integrative medicine program will be opening a dedicated clinic in 2015 that will serve as a destination medical facility for kids in need of specialized care.

Patient family focus

cha gardenSisters Brooklyn and Shaelyn enjoy time in the garden, as the newest additions to their family receive care in the neonatal intensive unit (NICU). Too young to visit the NICU for extended periods of time, family-friendly places like the CHA Storyland Garden and the Teammates for Kids Child Life Zone give them something to do – making the hospital a more fun and friendly place.

In an urban setting like downtown St. Paul, green space can be hard to find. So when Children's wanted to recreate an outdoor healing environment for patients and families at our St. Paul hospital campus, it was time to get creative.The answer? A stunning rooftop garden.

Tremendous philanthropic support from the community paved the way to help bring this unique and architecturally complex construction project to life. A lead gift from the Children's Hospital Association (CHA) inspired many generous donors to support the vision, and we celebrated the official grand opening of the CHA Storyland Garden in May of 2013.

Many of those generous donors just happened to be staff members at Children's. Every day, our staff goes above and beyond for patients and families in many different ways. One visible reminder of their passion can be seen in this garden – where colorful leaves inscribed with personal messages adorn a green picket fence. Nearly 200 Children's employees participated in sponsoring leaves, raising more than $50,000 to support this endeavor.

Because of the combined efforts of so many supporters, the CHA Storyland Garden provides a true outdoor oasis in the heart of the city. It joins a whole host of other patient and family services, such as sibling play areas, family resource centers, child life specialists and more that are donor-supported. But, most importantly, the garden promotes the healing power of play, encouraging patients to get back to the job at hand: simply being a kid.


Keeping families connected
When families are at Children's for long or even short visits, technology is a necessity. It can give kids something to do and keep parents connected to their loved ones. That's why Chad Greenway of the Minnesota Vikings and his wife Jenni have donated two Chad's Lockers to Children's through their Lead the Way Foundation. Located in the in-hospital Best Buy Geek Squad precincts on both campuses (a first in the nation), the lockers are filled with laptops, movies and video game systems. A winning combination for kids and families alike.

Companies who care
Children's is fortunate to have dedicated corporate partners from across the state who make giving back to our patients and families a priority. In 2013, volunteers from these businesses donated close to 3,000 hours of their time – organizing ice cream socials for patients, participating in the "Cooks for Kids" program at Children's in-hospital Ronald McDonald House, hosting bingo at Star Studio and more. Many corporate partners also give back by supporting programs like child life and our family resource centers, making sure patients and families experience the best possible journey by providing the little things that brighten their days.

Superheroes unite
It's a bird. It's a plane. It's a superhero window washer? In September, four superheroes descended on Children's – Minneapolis. Their mode of transportation: window washing cables. For patients and staff alike, this little splash of fun was a great reminder to have childlike wonder – despite life's circumstances.

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Clinical excellence

levelIInjuries are the leading cause of death in kids. But we want to change that. In June 2013, Children’s Making Safe Simple initiative – in partnership with UnitedHealthcare® – launched 100 ways in 100 days to help educate the community in areas of childhood safety. Throughout the summer, more than 170 volunteers from UnitedHealthcare® joined Children’s staff to pass out bike helmets and life jackets to kids and teens at Boys and Girls Clubs and area lakes in the Twin Cities metro.

This initiative launched the grand opening of the UnitedHealthcare® Level I Pediatric Trauma Center on the Children's – Minneapolis campus. In 2010, UnitedHealthcare® saw the need for families to have access to a trauma center located inside a hospital dedicated to kids. Through an 8-figure gift, they accelerated the timeline, helping us reach Level I certification in three years instead of ten by improving our trauma facilities and allowing us to hire a talented team of trauma specialists.

"Children's is uniquely positioned to measurably advance specialized pediatric trauma research, treatment and prevention efforts and will deliver enhanced care to thousands of children throughout the region," said Richard Migliori, MD, Executive Vice President, Medical Affairs, and Chief Medical Officer of UnitedHealth Group.

UnitedHealthcare® did more than just provide funding. They believed that volunteerism was just as valuable, and provided their employees an inside look at the difference philanthropy can make in the community. These employees and many more from organizations across Minnesota are making a difference by providing their time and resources to support Children's. Because of the UnitedHealthcare® volunteers – who committed several hours to safety awareness – hundreds of kids now have life-saving devices like bike helmets and life jackets that will help prevent future injuries.


Care across the community
As the focus of health care shifts to preventative measures, Children's footprint continues to grow in the Twin Cities and beyond. With a dozen primary care clinics throughout the metro area, and plans for more, we are well-equipped to treat patients outside of the hospital. And, should they need specialized care, they will have access to the area's best resources.

Teaming up for good
What better way to spend a summer day than gathering friends and family to support Children's? More than 5,000 people did just that in 2013. Their involvement in Baby Steps 3K, Heartbeat 5000, the Children's Hospitals Golf Benefit and the Pine Tree Apple Tennis Classic helped raise more than $790,000 to support clinical programs like neonatal, cardiovascular, cancer and blood disorders, and more. For many, the opportunity to give back was personal – their own experience at Children's inspired them to participate.

A healing space
Children's cares for all kids with all conditions. Each year, hundreds of patients will stay in the new Medical/Surgical Unit at Children's – St. Paul for post-surgical care, chronic disease management and much more. The unit, which opened in December of 2013 thanks to nearly $1.5 million in community donations, also provides space for some of our cutting-edge programs like ear, nose, throat and facial plastic surgery. As a critical component to our St. Paul campus – and the capstone to fulfilling our promise to provide all patients with a private room – we are grateful for the community's shared vision in making all of this possible.

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Patient family focus

advocacyThe Children’s Youth Advisory Council is a dedicated group of patients, ages 10 to 18, who draw on their experiences to help Children’s be the best place for kids. Here they pose by the Minnesota State Capitol, where several members visited in April to share their experiences with influential policymakers.

Children's doesn't just work inside the walls of our hospitals and clinics. This past year, many patients and their families shared their health experiences with some of the top leaders in the state and nation. They advocated for policies that impact the ability for Children's to deliver high-quality pediatric care and children's health more broadly.

In April 2013, members of the Youth Advisory Council (YAC) braved a snowstorm to visit the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul. YAC members spent the day meeting with representatives and telling their stories to help policymakers understand the impact their decisions have on pediatric care. They even ran into Representative Nick Zerwas, a former cardiovascular patient at Children's.

The advocacy efforts didn't stop there. In June, the Stoltz family visited Washington D.C. for the Children's Hospital Association annual family advocacy day. Jon, Veronica and their kids Ryan, Mason, Spencer and Katie took our nation's capitol by storm and talked with U.S. senators and representatives about the critical difference pediatric hospitals make in caring for kids with special health needs. They shared the story of their daughter, Katie, who was born 15 weeks early and is now a healthy 5-year-old, highlighting how the care from Children's led to a successful outcome.

Through these efforts and more, we are working to ensure that decisions made at the state and national level of leadership positively impact children's health care, helping even more kids and their families receive the services they need and deserve.


community impact

Meeting community health needs
Ensuring all kids grow up healthy is no small task. In 2013, we completed a comprehensive community health needs assessment (CHNA) to better understand the health issues facing children in our community. What we learned brought forward exciting opportunities to collaborate with partners around pediatric health, and reaffirmed the value of our clinical and community programs such as the Minnesota Sudden Infant Death Center and Vida Sana, both of which help address important health needs. More information on the CHNA is available at childrensMN.org/community.

Bullying stops here
Children's is fortunate to have dedicated corporate partners from across the state who make giving back to our patients and families a priority. In 2013, volunteers from these businesses donated close to 3,000 hours of their time – organizing ice cream socials for patients, participating in the "Cooks for Kids" program at Children's in-hospital Ronald McDonald House, hosting bingo at Star Studio and more. Many corporate partners also give back by supporting programs like child life and our family resource centers, making sure patients and families experience the best possible journey by providing the little things that brighten their days.

Midwest Children's Resources Center
It's a bird. It's a plane. It's a superhero window washer? In September, four superheroes descended on Children's – Minneapolis. Their mode of transportation: window washing cables. For patients and staff alike, this little splash of fun was a great reminder to have childlike wonder – despite life's circumstances.