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Children’s Minnesota Star Gala raises more than $2.2 million to support Child and Family Services program

Hosted by JJ Harrington and Obadiah Gamble, patients from Children’s Minnesota, this year’s fundraiser highlighted the healing power of child life specialists, supportive therapies and family-centered services

MINNEAPOLIS – (April 23, 2018) – On Saturday, April 21, more than 900 people gathered at the Historic Milwaukee Road Depot in Minneapolis and raised more than $2.2 million for the Child and Family Services program at Children’s Minnesota.

The 27th annual Star Gala, presented by APi Group, Inc., is the signature fundraiser for Children’s Minnesota. It was hosted by co-emcees JJ Harrington and Obadiah Gamble, both patients at Children’s Minnesota and featured Belinda Jensen from Kare 11. This year’s event highlighted the need for Child and Family Services, a program that plays a critical role in the care experience at Children’s. They offer direct support for the entire family through services such as child life, music and pet therapy, sibling play areas, Star Studio (Children’s very own in-hospital television channel), food pantry, spiritual care and bereavement support, clinical social work, interpreter services, arts and healing programs, and more.

Because these services are not reimbursed by insurance and never appear on a family’s hospital bill, Children’s relies on the giving community to sustain the program for patients and their families.

“Caring for kids involves more than expert medical care. It’s essential that we also look after their emotional well-being,” explains Marc Gorelick, MD, president and chief executive officer at Children’s Minnesota. “That’s where our child life specialists, chaplains, music and art therapists and many others step in. They heal our patients in other ways — and strengthen the support system for families. That, I think, is really the hallmark of the Children’s brand of care.”

Child and Family Services, he notes, also promotes patient-and-family centered care, honoring the pivotal role of the family as the constant in a child’s life. “By encouraging families to participate as active members of the health care team, we see more positive outcomes, physically and emotionally.”

The Star Gala event program included inspiring stories from the co-emcees, a special appearance and skit by The Dude — host of Children’s Star Studio programming. The event also included a silent and live auction, dinner and dancing. The fund-a-need raised more than $370,000, with an opening gift of $20,000 from JJ Harrington’s fundraising efforts. This gift was matched by Sue and Steve LaCroix and the Taste of the NFL to support the food pantry at Children’s Minnesota, one of the many child and family services. Top sponsors at this year’s event include: APi Group, Inc., BeEvents, Delta Air Lines, Great Clips and Pediatric Home Service.

Over the past 27 years, Star Gala has inspired more than $24 million in charitable giving.

About Children’s Minnesota
Children’s Minnesota is the seventh largest pediatric health system 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. Additionally, Children’s is Minnesota’s only Level I pediatric trauma center inside a hospital dedicated solely to children. 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 received Magnet recognition from The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) in 2018 and is regularly ranked by U.S. News & World Report as a top children’s hospital. Please visit

Hayley Sitz