Giving News & Highlights

Colin's Story

Colin was born Aug. 3, 2013, 16 weeks before his Nov. 27 due date, and weighed a tiny 1 pound, 1.5 ounces. By the time he was two weeks old, Colin already had undergone heart and bowel surgeries within 12 hours of each other.

It was a whirlwind of emotions for Colin’s parents, Jessica and Jerrod, who were figuring out how to navigate life with a baby in the hospital in Minneapolis and two other children at home in Wisconsin.

“The hardest part was keeping as strong as our little boy has been,” Jessica said.

On Thanksgiving, the day after his due date, Colin already had spent 117 days in the NICU and had multiple surgeries. While it was a busy and stressful time for their family, Jessica and Jerrod took comfort in knowing their son was receiving the best care possible at Children’s. Colin’s family even was able to check on him 24/7 with the assistance of a NicView camera, which allowed the family to watch streamed, live footage from a camera in Colin’s crib at the hospital.

Weighing 6 pounds, 10 ounces and having spent 139 days in the NICU, nearly 20 weeks since he was born, Colin was able to go home Dec. 20.

fehlenfamily blog

Colin's family

Colin Photoshoot Colin Photoshoot 2

Colin at his photo shoot

Since leaving

There was a lot of planning that had to be done before Colin could leave Children’s. With the help of Children’s staff, Jessica and Jerrod felt prepared to care for their third child, which would have different challenges from the other two. As part of Children’s family-centered approach to caregiving, Colin’s parents were able to change diapers, facilitate feeds and comfort their son while at the hospital. This not only helped Colin and his parents feel more connected, but also provided Jessica and Jerrod with the skills to bring him home to complete their family.

The best part of Colin being home is they finally can be a family. Jessica and Jerrod experienced 4½ months of juggling spending time with Colin in the hospital and spending time with their 2- and 4-year-old children at home.

“My husband and I dreamed for 4½ months what it would be like to be a family of five, and it is amazing,” Jessica said. “We love our family and feel so blessed to be together!”

Colin now is more than 7 months old. His favorite things are eating, sleeping, sucking on his hands and fingers, and being entertained by his brother and sister.

As great as he’s doing, Colin still isn’t done with his time at Children’s. Jessica and Jerrod are doing everything they can to keep Colin safe and free from illness. Colin has frequent eye-exam visits (three exams in the past two months) for his retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a common eye disorder in premature births. Over the past few months, Colin has received in-home nurse visits, weekly occupational therapy visits and ear, nose and throat visits. He also visits his primary care provider to get weighed, receive vaccinations and check overall well-being.

On March 13, Colin checked in to Children’s – Minneapolis for surgery. Colin had a bronchoscopy to check his vocal cords and airway, laser eye surgery to stop the progression of ROP and an incisional hernia repair to fix a hernia by one of his stoma incision sites. He had three doctors working on him that day.

During the surgery, the doctors found a paralyzed left vocal cord, a partially paralyzed right vocal cord and narrowing of his airway below his cords. After the surgery, Colin stayed a Children’s for a bit so doctors and nurses could keep an eye on him. He will need to come back for a second bronchoscopy in three months to check on his vocal cords and airway.

“Although Colin's birth and first few months of life were very traumatic and stressful, I still think of Children's on a good note,” Jessica said. “They helped sustain his life when he had very little chance in this outside world because he was born so prematurely. The hardest moments of my life happened at Children's, but they also helped give me one of the greatest gifts – Colin. I will never forget our time at Children’s and can’t wait until we can give back to all the great resources that we used extensively. Colin is a miracle, and we couldn't have done it without our faith, love and the amazing care our son received at Children's hospital.”

If you would like to support Children’s and families like Colin’s, you can make a one-time donation or a monthly donation to help all year long. Your support will provide services like the Ronald McDonald House, which allowed Colin’s family to spend time together as a family for an entire weekend; the sibling play area, where Colin’s siblings, Aiden and Bella, were able to spend time when their parents were taking care of Colin; and the Family Resource Center that assisted Jessica and Jerrod in finding out more about what was happening to their baby.

Go for the gold

Megan was a spunky girl from the day she was born. Every day was full of activity! She loved riding horses, 4-wheeling, farming, hunting, sewing and scrapbooking. She had a great love for animals and dreamed of becoming a vet!

At age 13, Megan was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Megan was treated at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota for over two years. Sadly, we lost Megan to leukemia in November of 2007, when she was just 16 years old.

In 2010, our family founded the Go for the Gold Association to honor Megan’s memory and spread awareness about pediatric cancer. The Go for the Gold Association organizes events that incorporate some of Megan’s favorite activities—like sewing mittens and pillowcases! Through a variety of annual community fundraisers and volunteer events in our hometown of Mora, MN, we raise money for the Cancer Kids Fund at Children’s.

GFTG Blankets

GFTG HighwayCleanUp

Through our craft sales, 5Ks, community garage sales, and volunteer events the Go for the Gold Association has raised over $48,000 for pediatric cancer research at Children’s! Our family appreciates the care Megan’s received at Children’s and love to share her story.

To learn more about the Go for the Gold Association, visit their Facebook page.

A message of gratitude

The start of the New Year is the perfect time to appreciate all those who give meaning to our lives. For the kids and families at Children’s, there is no question that this includes our friends, partners and donors. Without committed and outstanding supporters, Children’s would not be Children’s. Gifts of time, talent and philanthropy have helped ensure countless kids continue to receive the absolute best in family-centered pediatric care and services.

Time and again our partners have shown us that even the smallest expressions of humanity and gratitude can help us achieve amazing things for amazing children in both St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Because of our community of support…

  • clair-and-reese
    Clair and Reese
    Mary Kay and her twin girls Clair and Reese, born 85 days early, can be cared for together in the new Special Care Nursery rooms at The Mother Baby Center in Minneapolis, facilitating the bonding process and letting parents be an important part of the care team.
  • Twin Cities teen Adrianna can receive the highest quality care from pediatric specialists in the Level I trauma center in Minneapolis after suffering a concussion at a weekend basketball tournament, as well as follow-up care to ensure there are no long-term consequences.
  • yesica
    Yesica, age 11
    Yesica, who was diagnosed with type I diabetes at age 11, has access to private patients rooms on the medical/surgical unit in St. Paul, so her mom and dad can stay close in a welcoming and comfortable space anytime her chronic condition requires maintenance.
  • Leonard, a Children’s volunteer for the past 27 years, can utilize the new CHA Storyland Garden on the rooftop in St. Paul to help children experience healing through plant therapy activities.
  • Mason can stay close to his parents and little sister who recently had surgery, while still being able to be a kid and have fun in the new sibling play area of the Teammates for Kids Child Life Zone in St. Paul.
  • Gavin
    Gavin, age 7
    Our doctors can, for the first time ever, use an MRI guided laser to help Gavin fight a brain tumor he nicknamed Joe Bully and receive the highest quality patient care in the new Karen and George Benz Family Pediatric Neuroscience Center in St. Paul.

We are proud to be part of a community that has done so much to ensure the best possible future for our children. We wish you and your family a healthy and joyful New Year.

With gratitude, 
Children's Foundation 

Famous Dave's gives back in a big way

Three years ago, Famous Dave’s decided they wanted to give back to Children’s in a big way. So they started the Wilbur Cares Party, hosted by the Famous Dave’s Jazz Club in Calhoun Square.

Proceeds from the party have contributed to their pledge of $50,000 to fund a private patient room in the newly opened Karen and George Benz Family Pediatric Neuroscience Center. The center brings Children’s expertise together under one roof so that kids with brain injuries and other neurological illnesses can benefit from the seamless and integrated care needed to treat these complex disorders. And private patient rooms allow families to stay close during their child’s stay, and bring the comforts of home to the hospital setting.

Famous Dave’s also makes a commitment to visit Children’s throughout the year, which includes serving a special, themed lunch to patients and families twice a year, volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House located in Children’s – Minneapolis, and hosting a holiday toy drive at their Twin Cities metro area locations.

Famous Dave's restaurants sell Wilbur plush with
100% of proceeds benefitting Children's.
Volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House.

We are so grateful for their long-standing commitment to supporting our patients and their families. Since partnering with Children’s, Famous Dave’s has donated more than $63,000 to Children’s in cash and in-kind donations.

The 2014 Wilbur Cares Party will take place on Saturday, Jan. 25, starting at 5:00 p.m. With live music, a silent auction, BBQ, and Paul Fletcher from Cities 97 as emcee, it promises to be a fun night. We hope to see you there! Register for the event today.

Graham's gift

Earlier this year, at 9 years old, Graham was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma. It’s inoperable, and there’s only one other child living with it. The child lives in Australia and communicates with Graham via Facebook, an account his mom created for chatting and comparing notes on their shared illness.

Graham's first experience at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota fell on the same day he got his cancer diagnosis. He was scared. But, he had a dream-team of medical experts to help him. He met Dr. Susan Sensor, who showed him her scar from her melanoma. It made him feel better and less anxious. Dr. David Dassenko made Graham’s first surgery less painful by using a "J-Tip" to start his I.V. A child life specialist gave him a blanket before he went into the OR.

graham 1

During his journey, Graham has decided to raise money and awareness by making and selling rubber band bracelets. Each bracelet costs $1 and has a yellow bead that represents Childhood Cancer Awareness. Visit Graham's GiveMN page to make a donation and receive a bracelet!

His bracelet campaign has taken off. More than 1,000 bracelets have been made. His friends and other kids throughout Minnesota have helped, so he can quickly fill orders. Bracelets have been shipped throughout the United States and to Australia! Graham's bracelet brigade was even mentioned in a news story on KARE 11!

Graham hopes no child will ever have to go through what he’s endured, and that he will raise enough awareness and funds to make a difference! You can read more about Graham's Journey on his Facebook page.