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24th annual Children’s Star Gala nets more than $2.2 million to support leading cardiovascular program

Children’s Minnesota’s signature event has raised more than $2.2 million to advance pediatric health care since its inception in 1992

MINNEAPOLIS, MN (April 27, 2015) — Eleven hundred people joined together and raised more than $2.2 million for Children’s Minnesota’s cardiovascular program at Children’s annual Star Gala on Saturday, April 25, at the historic Milwaukee Road Depot.

Children’s cardiovascular program has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the best in the nation. It provides a full range of services from imaging tests to pioneering surgeries for babies, children, teens and adults born with heart defects. The program performs 60 percent of the pediatric cardiac surgeries in the region.

The evening was complete with inspirational stories from patient families and doctors, silent and live auctions, as well as dinner and dancing. Children’s Star Gala has raised more than $2 million each of the past three years.

“We are fortunate to be a part of such a generous community, which time and time again demonstrates its continued dedication to pediatric health,” said Theresa Pesch, RN, president of Children’s Foundation. “The funds raised at this year’s Star Gala will enable us to expand our cardiovascular care and research capabilities, advancing our work to give children with congenital heart defects the chance to thrive.”

KARE11 meteorologist Belinda Jensen served for the 16th time as event emcee. This year, her co-emcee was 13-year-old Children’s patient JJ Harrington. JJ, who has had two heart surgeries, shared her compelling journey of living with a congenital heart defect with the audience.

In the week leading up to Star Gala, digital marketing agency Ciceron issued a hashtag challenge, where it would donate $5, up to $10,000, to Children’s cardiovascular program for every mention of #stargala15 on social media. Children’s supporters and gala attendees surpassed the challenge’s goal, and the hashtag was the No. 3 trending topic in Minneapolis on Twitter on Saturday.

Attendees also got a behind-the-scenes look at what the cardiovascular program means to those who work at Children’s. The video can be viewed on Vimeo. A photo recap of the evening’s festivities can be found here.

Major sponsors of Children’s Star Gala included: Target; Ciresi Conlin LLP; Pediatric Home Service; BeEvents; Children’s Heart Clinic; Greg and Jane Goven; Great Clips; API Group, Inc.; Pentair; Minnesota Neonatal Physicians, P.A; Pediatric Surgical Associates, LTD; Upsher Smith Labs; Medtronic; and United Health Foundation.

About Children’s Minnesota

Children’s Minnesota is one of the largest pediatric health systems in the United States and the only health system in Minnesota to provide care exclusively to children, from before birth through young adulthood. An independent and not-for-profit system since 1924, Children’s serves kids throughout the Upper Midwest at two free-standing hospitals, 12 primary and specialty-care clinics and six rehabilitation sites. Children’s maintains its longstanding commitment to the community to improve children’s health by providing high-quality, family-centered pediatric services and advancing those efforts through research and education. This work is made possible in large part by generous philanthropic and volunteer support from individuals and organizations throughout the state and region. An award-winning health system, Children’s is regularly ranked by U.S. News & World Report as a top children’s hospital. Please visit