Giving News & Highlights

The healing effects of art

Robots. Dragons. Snowmen. These are just a few of the things that Joe, a patient at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, has created out of clay.

joe clayartwork
Some of Joe's recent creations

Dubbed Clay Studios, Joe’s weekly venture is full of “pure imagination” as he puts it, and is a chance for him to be creative and think outside of the box. But it’s also a distraction, an outlet for Joe that helps him calm down as he awaits an IV, or what he refers to as “the stick.”

Joe has a genetic disorder that has resulted in a missing enzyme. And while doctors and researchers await a new drug to assist with treatment, Joe visits Children’s once a week for care, up to five hours a stay.

“Joe is super anxious about needles,” his mom, Karin, says.

And the Arts & Healing Project at Children’s is helping to reduce that anxiety one art project at a time.

Joe looks forward to his weekly sessions with Carol Allesee, the Arts & Healing coordinator. Using Art Out of the Box kits, which are donated to the program, they create clay motifs and write stories to accompany them.

“I think for a little bit,” Joe says, “And then flash, flash, flash.”

The stories come to life.

Joe also looks forward to visits with “the Dude,” the host of Star Studio, Children’s own in-house TV channel.

“He loves the Dude,” Karin says. “He’s even been able to go on the show.”

Karin has seen the impact that the program has made on her son, sharing that once care is possible to give at home, Joe still wants to come to the hospital.

“He looks forward to being here. He wants to create art projects and hang out with the Dude. It’s amazing,” she says.

joe blog
Joe creating some new sculptures
with the Arts & Healing coordinator,
Carol Allesee.

The Arts & Healing Project is not supplemented by insurance and relies on donor support in order to continue. Karin has been so thankful for the program that she reached out to her company, Bell Mortgage, to see if they would provide a donation. They did, and their $1,000 gift will help patients at Children’s continue to benefit from the arts, a proven method for aiding in the healing process.

Children’s invites you to consider a donation as well by joining us at Starry Night, an evening of arts and healing, at Aria Jeune Leune in downtown Minneapolis on Friday, Oct. 11. Participate in a Parisian marketplace where you can support Children’s Arts & Healing project in hands-on ways, while learning how activities like Star Studio and Art Out of the Box impact patients like Joe. To learn more or purchase tickets, visit

Volunteers are Making Safe Simple

We’ve had a busy summer. We commemorated our Emergency Department’s Level 1 trauma designation and kicked off Making safe simple: 100 ways in 100 days.

And we couldn’t have done any of it without dedicated UnitedHealthcare (UHC), UnitedHealth Group (UHG) and Optum volunteers. Almost 200 volunteers gave over 500 hours of their time, sharing simple safety tips while giving away bike helmets and life jackets, and so much more. Thanks to our great volunteers, we were able to help hundreds of kids have a safer summer.

During our first event, volunteers visited several Boys and Girls Clubs and local parks in the Twin Cities to provide and fit more than 500 kids with free bike helmets and bike lights. As the bus was departing from one club, some volunteers spotted some neighborhood kids biking down the street without helmets. The bus driver stopped the bus, and we were able to fit the entire group with helmets!


We were lucky to have the perfect day for our water safety event a few weeks later. The eight Minneapolis park beaches were busy with families enjoying the sun and water. Volunteers distributed more than 700 life vests - and lots of sunscreen! It was incredible to see the difference as the buses pulled away, leaving beaches full of kids racing back into the lake with their new safety gear.

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For our last activity, volunteers participated in our own Phillips West neighborhood National Night Out event - the largest in Minnesota! UHC, UHG and Optum volunteers staffed our Making Safe Simple booth teaching families about in-home safety. Unfortunately, a thunderstorm forced us to close down early but not before we were able to give away tons of bike lights, reflective slap bracelets, bicycle helmets and life jackets. One volunteer who attended the water safety event was so excited that she decided to take our safety message back to her own National Night Out gathering. We sent a large box of bike lights to distribute to the 50 kids in her neighborhood. Afterward, she said that the lights were almost more popular than the fire trucks the kids got to ride in!

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In addition to these great events, UHC, UHG and Optum also held on-site volunteer activities to assemble 1,500 safety craft kits for Children’s to distribute to patients and families in our emergency and clinic waiting rooms. These included safety activity sheets, coloring pages and glow-in-the-dark necklaces.

In a few weeks, volunteers will help us with one of the biggest safety events of the year when our Making Safe Simple booth returns to the Minnesota State Fair. UHC, UHG and Optum volunteers will help teach patients and families about helmet, water, car seat and ATV safety.

Interested in volunteering with us at the fair? We have a few shifts left to fill! If you are free during the following times, please contact Joshua Bredehoeft at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 612-813-7122.

Sunday, Aug. 25, 2:00 – 5:30 p.m. or 5:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 31, 5:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Sundau, Sept. 1, 5:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 2, 5:00– 8:30 p.m.

2 families join together to help others in their time of need

On Sept. 1, 2011, Ray Gregory Labat joined the proud parents, Adam and Erin Labat. Their first born, he had a smile that would light up a room. Just as he was starting to develop a personality, Ray passed away from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). He was 4 months, 10 days old.

On Nov. 4, 2009, another beautiful first-born son, Noah Joseph Rogers, came into this world. He was the love of Scott and Jenna's lives. At 11 months, he died from SIDS while taking a nap at daycare.

Ray Gregory Labat

Noah Joseph Rogers

During their time of grief, the last thing these families wanted to think about was money. Between funeral costs, head stones, flowers, and more, the bills added up quickly. It wasn’t something they planned for. No one does.

With the help of the Minnesota Sudden Infant Death Center and Children’s Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota, the Labat and Rogers families have created the Ray Labat/Noah Rogers Memorial Funeral Fund. This fund was created to help families who have been affected by SIDS to cover some of the funeral expenses.

These families know firsthand how difficult it can be losing a child. Not only are they honoring their children, but they’re helping other families in their time of need by allowing them to focus on what’s truly important, not on how much it’s all going to cost.

Both families have started their own fundraising events benefiting the memorial fund:

Hit the greens during Noah’s Memorial Classic on July 29 at the Medina Golf and Country Club.

Lace up your shoes for Ray’s Run on Sept. 14 around Rice Lake in Maple Grove.

In 2012, the Ray Labat/Noah Rogers Memorial Funeral Fund helped 11 families from across Minnesota – in memory of Ray and Noah.

Grateful cancer patient to run in Pine Tree Runs this weekend

Lindsay and Jeremy Ginter had no idea that a routine checkup would reveal their worst fear: their seven-month-old son, Evan, had cancer.

In December 2008, the Ginters’ primary pediatrician noticed that Evan’s breathing was very shallow, and a chest x-ray revealed a large, dark mass on his right lung. Evan was admitted to Children’s – Minneapolis immediately.

While there, Evan underwent a series of tests and scans, along with a major surgery, all which revealed a rare form of lung cancer known as pleuropulmonary blastoma (PPB) Type 1R.

Through it all, the Ginters are grateful for the care that Evan received during their ten days at Children’s. “The care provided by the oncologists, pulmonologists and nurses was of the highest caliber,” they recall. Lindsay and Jeremy highlight the blessing of having such easy access to Dr. Yoav Messinger and Children’s vast experience with the PPB registry. They also recall how Evan’s care team was always available for questions, advice and even general conversation. “The Children’s team has supported us throughout the entire journey.”

evan ginterEvan Ginter, 5 years old.

Evan is now 5 years old, and will start Kindergarten in the fall. But before summer is over, he will play an integral role as one of five patient representatives from Children’s at the 28th Annual Pine Tree Apple Tennis (PTATC), taking place this weekend.

We invite you to join the Ginters and other families at PTATC to raise awareness and funds for cancer research at Children’s. Come out and enjoy a tennis match or sign up to participate in the Pine Tree Runs, a 5K, 10K and Kid’s Fun Run taking place on Sunday, Aug. 4. To learn more about the tennis tournament and walk/run, visit

Inspired by Ziggy’s care, his family plans to give back

Emily, along with her husband, Matt, rushed to Methodist Hospital when her water broke at 30 weeks and was told by her doctor that she was about to deliver a pre-term baby who would need to be taken by ambulance to Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota in Minneapolis immediately after he was born. Wanting to be with their baby, the couple changed plans and rushed to Abbott Northwestern Hospital, across from Children’s, to deliver their son, Zigmond “Ziggy” Barbero.

barberobabyDuring labor, Emily received two steroid shots to help with fetal lung development and was visited by Children’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurses who told she and her husband what to expect after delivery.

“Great preparation,” the couple said.

The doctors and nurses armed them with the facts.

Ziggy was born weighing 3 pounds, 6 ounces. Matt, a property development executive with Target corporation, was thrilled and scared at the sight of his tiny infant son. Ziggy was immediately moved into Children’s special care nursery (SCN) on the seventh floor of Abbott where he was closely monitored.

Four days after Ziggy was born, the Barbero family learned that they were going to be one of 15 families moved over to the new Mother Baby Center when it opened. They were the first occupants of the generously sponsored C.H. Robinson SCN room. This was especially meaningful, as Emily is the director of internal communications at C.H. Robinson and has been involved in their partnership with Children’s.

barberofamilyjpgMoving their fragile child made them a bit nervous until they saw their beautiful new home, complete with a pull-out sofa for the parents to stay. They were able to remain with their precious Ziggy as he learned to feed, gain weight and grow stronger.

During their time at Children's, Emily and Matt were moved by the people and care that blessed their son’s life. Both parents look forward to exploring the corporate partnerships that their companies have with the hospital and want to continue being involved!