Category Archives: Philanthropy

6-year-old boy’s first haircut becomes good deed

Odin Bergs, 6, received his first haircut and donated 12 inches to Wigs 4 Kids and raised $1,000 for the Children's Kids Cancer Fund. (Photos by Kristin Smith Creative)

Odin Bergs, 6, received his first haircut and donated 12 inches to Wigs 4 Kids and raised $1,000 for the Children’s Kids Cancer Fund. (Photos by Kristin Smith Creative)

subscribe_blogLast month, 6-year-old Odin Bergs decided it was time to say goodbye to his beautiful, blonde locks for the first time in his life.

But before he did this good deed, he raised support — a cheerleading section for his bravery of stepping into the hairstylist’s chair — and money online for Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota’s Cancer Kids Fund to help those “bravely fighting the biggest battles they may ever have to face in their lifetimes.” In a matter of days, Odin’s supporters generously donated more than $1,000.

The result of Odin's first haircut

The result of Odin’s first haircut

While it’s just hair to many, to his mom, Sarah Bach-Bergs, Odin’s long locks carried the story of his life — reflective of her journey as a mom, she shared with donors. She remembered watching the hair grow throughout the years and feeling it close to her heart when she held him close; hair that saw both good days and bad days, she also wrote.

On March 18, Odin had 12 inches of his hair cut and donated to Wigs 4 Kids, which helps kids 18 and younger who suffer from hair loss due to cancer or other medical conditions. In solidarity, Sarah also cut 12 inches of her hair to be donated. Stylist Natalie Lovejoy, with Soapbox Salon, generously donated her services.

While it’s goodbye to hair, it’s hello to new beginnings. And it’s a reminder that something as ordinary as getting a haircut can be extraordinary.

Boy honors sister’s life through fundraising, head-shaving event

Brady German (right), of Bell Plaine, Minn., shaves his head annually at the St. Baldrick's Foundation's "Shave the Day" event at Children's in honor of his sister, Emma. Emma died in September, four years after being diagnosed with neuroblastoma. She was 7. (Photo courtesy of the German family)

Brady German (right), of Belle Plaine, Minn., shaves his head annually at the St. Baldrick’s Foundation’s “Shave the Day” event at Children’s and raises money for cancer research in honor of his sister, Emma. Emma passed away in September, four years after being diagnosed with neuroblastoma. She was 7. (Photo courtesy of the German family)

Emma German, of Belle Plaine, Minn., passed away in September, four years after being diagnosed with neuroblastoma. Her brother, Brady, continues to raise money for cancer research and shave his head in her honor through the St. Baldrick’s Foundation’s annual “Shave the Day” event at Children’s – Minneapolis.

Brady Gervais

In the small town of Belle Plaine, Minn., everyone knows about Emma. A “girlie girl,” Emma was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2010 when she was 3. She loved fashion, sparkles, makeup and accessories. The more glitter, the better. She loved to dance and sing, play piano and do arts and crafts. She and her older brother, Brady, entertained their family with weekly skits and dances.

Emma was so adored that in 2013, she was invited to be a “celebrity shaver” at a St. Baldrick’s Foundation head-shaving event at Children’s that raises money for cancer research. While watching Emma shave heads, Brady was spurred to help, too. Emma’s doctor offered to donate to St. Baldrick’s if Brady became a shavee. He agreed and then challenged his mom to donate, too. Earlier that day, his mom had received an anonymous cash gift. She donated the money for the cause.

Later that night, Brady told his mom that he wouldn’t cut his hair until the following year, when people would shave the day again for St. Baldrick’s at Children’s. As his hair grew throughout 2013 and early 2014, people commented on his long locks. Whenever they did, Brady told them that he was raising money for pediatric cancer research, his sister was undergoing cancer treatment and he wanted to help kids like Emma get much-needed medicine. He raised more than $4,000.

Emma hugs big brother Brady shortly after she helped shave his head during the 2014 St. Baldrick's Day event.

Emma hugs big brother Brady shortly after she helped shave his head during the 2014 St. Baldrick’s Day event.

After spending four years in and out of the hospital, Emma passed away Sept. 24, 2014. She was 7. But her story doesn’t end there; it lives on in her big brother. This year, after Emma’s death, Brady has aspired to do much more.

“Brady loves and misses his little sister terribly, and it hurts him SO much to do this without her,” their mom, Keriann, said. “But raising money to help fund clinical trials that can hopefully help find treatments that can save other children battling cancer is a great way to honor someone we have lost to the disease.”

Brady recruited eight of his classmates from his fourth-grade class at Oak Crest Elementary and his favorite teacher, Mr. Don Fraser, to commit to shaving their heads and raising money, too. Brady named his team “Emma’s Acorns” — a tribute to his sister and school. He tells his friends that he wants to “help the doctors and scientists find better medicines for kids with cancer so that other kids don’t have to lose a brother or sister to cancer like he did.”

Brady (in green) recruited eight classmates and his teacher to raise money for cancer research and shave their heads this year. The group has raised more than $10,000.

Brady (in green) recruited eight classmates and his teacher to raise money for cancer research and shave their heads this year. The group, “Emma’s Acorns,” has raised more than $10,000.

subscribe_blogAt the St. Baldrick’s event at Children’s on Thursday, Brady’s friends will wear pink, a color they unanimously picked to honor Emma. Their moms will wear purple, another favorite of Emma’s. So far, Brady and his friends have raised more than $10,000. And each one has told Keriann that they plan to shave their heads and raise money annually to honor Emma.

“I know that Emma is the reason Brady is doing this,” Keriann said, “and his friends are proud to support him in his efforts to raise money and awareness of the importance of funding clinical trials for pediatric cancer.”

Learn more about how you can “Shave the Day” on Thursday.

Brady Gervais is an annual giving officer in the foundation at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

Couple will run their first marathon on behalf of Children’s

Emily Mahr and Ryan Olson will run their first marathon in October on behalf of Children’s. (Photos courtesy of Emily Mahr)

Emily Mahr and Ryan Olson will run their first marathon in October on behalf of Children’s. (Photos courtesy of Emily Mahr)

Brady Gervais

Earlier this winter, I emailed back and forth with Emily Mahr, after she RSVP’d to attend Children’s party kicking off Team Superstars, our inaugural charity running program. She was interested in running the TC 10 Mile for us, and I was determined to convince her otherwise. We had several Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon spots and precious few 10-mile entries. I needed runners to commit to 26.2.

Fast forward to Feb. 5, the night Mill City Running hosted Children’s kickoff party. When I greeted Emily and her boyfriend, Ryan Olson, I said I was determined to get her to run the marathon on behalf of Children’s. Then, I left Emily and Ryan alone to browse the store — and think about it.

Emily and Ryan completed their first race together in August 2013 at the Fifteen’s 5K.

Emily and Ryan completed their first race together in August 2013 at the Fifteen’s 5K.

Several minutes later, I saw them at one of the laptops we had set up for marathon registration. They were signing up to run the Twin Cities Marathon — their first marathon — and fund-raise on behalf of Children’s.

“My heart was saying go for it. I’ve always wanted to run a marathon,” Ryan later told me. “I’ve always wanted to give back. This is a way to start.”

I immediately hugged them both. I was excited for two reasons: 1. Team Superstars was growing by two more members passionate about Children’s, and 2. I had been in their shoes as a charity runner and knew they were in for something special.

Team Superstars is Children’s first-ever charity running team. Runners are not only asked to participate in one of the Twin Cities Marathon weekend events but to also go the extra mile by committing to fundraising. Running for a cause gives purpose to every mile, ounce of sweat and tear shed.

subscribe_blogEmily, 31, has been running since 2007 and started racing in 2011. She ran her first half-marathon with Ryan in 2013 in Las Vegas and plans to run her second in May. Ryan, 32, caught the bug when he started dating Emily in 2011.

Neither has a direct connection to Children’s — just the desire to support the cause in a meaningful way.

“I don’t have a connection, but why wouldn’t I run for Children’s?” Emily said.

Brady Gervais is an annual giving officer at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. Learn more about Team Superstars. Interested in joining? Email Brady at [email protected] today. Read last month’s story about Robyn, who will run the marathon in memory of her 21-month-old grandson who passed away unexpectedly.

Advice for first-time marathoners from Coach Antonio Vega

Coach Antonio Vega of Zoom Performance will guide Team Superstars with an online training plan, weekly training tips and two group runs and presentations. (Photo courtesy of Antonio Vega)

Coach Antonio Vega of Zoom Performance will guide Team Superstars with an online training plan, weekly training tips and two group runs and presentations. (Photo courtesy of Antonio Vega)

Earlier this year, we launched our first-ever charity endurance program. With Coach Antonio Vega’s help, Children’s Team Superstars will participate in the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon in 2015. Because many of our runners will be lining up for 26.2 miles for the first time, we asked Antonio a few questions.

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RELATED: Add a Children’s race to your calendar

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How do you start training for your first marathon?

Starting to train is always the hardest part of training. Keeping yourself accountable and motivated can be challenging when starting to train for a marathon. The best way to get started is to make a schedule of days and times when you will dedicate time to getting your run in. Find a friend who is willing to keep you company during your training. Keep your running fun by finding new places to run, join a running club or meeting a group of friends for a run and then going out for brunch, post-run.

Do you recommend doing any races while training and gearing up for a marathon?

Racing during marathon training is a great way to break up the monotony of training, and it’s a good time to gauge your fitness. I recommend adding in a couple of 5Ks and 10Ks before the marathon.

What is the best cross training?

Cross training is a great way to give your body additional time for recovery while still working your aerobic system. Any form of cross training that you enjoy is a value toward your marathon training.

What do you recommend for fueling before, during and after training runs?

Fueling can be one of the most important aspects of your marathon training. Having a good meal about two hours before a run is important. Keep with foods that you are used to and sit well in your stomach. During training runs, practice taking fluids and some form of nutrition. With the athletes with whom I work, we use a diluted sports drink and a gel during long runs. Post-run, it is just as important to replenish the calories that you lost during your long run. A 16-ounce glass of chocolate milk has the right balance of fats to protein and is a great way to replenish the calories you lost.

subscribe_blogTo stretch or not to stretch before and after runs?

I like to stretch after doing a run. This allows me to focus on areas that were tight during my run. I find that before doing a run I like to do more of a dynamic warm-up. A dynamic warm-up is a way to get your heart rate up and stretch out the muscles that you will be using during your run.

What is normal pain versus bad pain while running?

It is always tough to determine what is considered pain and what is just regular training soreness. My rule of thumb is if you start running and the pain starts to go away the more you warm up, this is usually a sign of training soreness. Training soreness is to be expected and not something to worry too much about. However, if you start to run and the pain stays the same or gets worse the more you run this can be the start of an injury, and it might be wise to take some time off.

There’s still time! Join Team Superstars by contacting Brady Gervais at [email protected] today!

Woman to honor late grandson at Twin Cities Marathon

Team Superstars' Robyn Steinbrueck is running for her grandson, Rowan Peterson, who died March 2012. (Photo courtesy of Robyn Steinbrueck)

Team Superstars’ Robyn Steinbrueck is running the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon for her grandson, Rowan Peterson (pictured), who died March 2012. (Photo courtesy of Robyn Steinbrueck)

This is the first in a regular series about Team Superstars runners who will participate in the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon on Oct. 4 on behalf of Children’s inaugural charity running team. Learn more.

Robyn Steinbrueck

What do you think of when you hear “Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota”? To me, Children’s is a place that played a beautiful and integral part of my family’s life in March 2012.

It was a Sunday I will never forget. I was having my lunch when the phone rang. My daughter, Katie, was calling to tell me news no one wants to hear. My 21-month-old grandson, Rowan, had gone into cardiac arrest. After 35 minutes of the paramedics trying to revive him, they got his heart beating, and he was on his way to North Memorial Medical Center. After frantically driving to pick up his twin brothers, Josh and Holden, we learned that Rowan had been transferred to Children’s. I knew immediately that no matter the outcome, he would receive the best care.

As the day transpired, and we arrived at the hospital, we were hopeful but realistic. Being without oxygen or a heartbeat for that long could not be good. Our worst fears were realized when the doctors told us that indeed Rowan’s brain was badly damaged from the oxygen deprivation. The doctors and nurses were absolutely fabulous as they walked my daughter and her husband, Taylor, through the last day of Rowan’s life. They were treated with incredible compassion and respect as they made decisions that no young parents should ever have to make. As each family member came to say goodbye to Rowan, we were shown such love by the staff, especially the nurses. Their final gift to Rowan was a beautiful quilt that his body was wrapped in after he died. Even in death, the thoughtfulness of Children’s shined through. Although our family was only at Children’s for a little more than a day, the memory of their care will stay with me for a lifetime.

I began running in 2002, so after Rowan’s death, it was good therapy for me to hit the pavement. As the miles passed under my feet, I found great comfort and the “road was a good listener.” Knowing that I had increased my mileage as a way to deal with the grief and its aftermath, my brother encouraged me to run a half-marathon with him. I thought that there was no way I could do it, but I am very competitive, so I took him up on the offer. I ran two half-marathons that year, and I loved every minute of it!

Grief comes in waves, and it really hit me hard in late 2013, so I increased my running. Somewhere in all those miles, I decided that I wanted to run the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. Fast forward to October 2014, and as I was lining up in downtown Minneapolis, I looked up and saw Hennepin County Medical Center, the hospital where Rowan was born. Tears filled my eyes as I realized that I was actually doing this and that I had made it through this challenge. So on Oct. 5, I completed my first marathon! To say it was one of the best days of my life would be an understatement. The crowds, the course, the weather and my family all came together that day. I knew as soon as I crossed the finish line that I would do it again.

subscribe_blogOne of the most inspirational parts of the Twin Cities Marathon is the charity teams. Not only do they support each other through training and raise funds for their cause, but they are there for each other throughout the race. I knew that I had to be part of a team. When I heard about Team Superstars, there was no doubt in my mind that this was for me; what a great way to honor the memory of my grandson, Rowan, and to show support for Children’s.

So, my “Team Superstars” adventure begins. I am excited to raise funds and to be part of an awesome team. I look forward with great anticipation to Oct. 4, when I will run the Twin Cities Marathon as part of Team Superstars. I know that Rowan’s memory and spirit of Children’s will be with me the entire way.

Children’s pain and palliative care clinic opens new doors

The Kiran Stordalen and Horst Rechelbacher Pediatric Pain, Palliative and Integrative Medicine Clinic opened Jan. 6 at Children's – Minneapolis.

The Kiran Stordalen and Horst Rechelbacher Pediatric Pain, Palliative and Integrative Medicine Clinic opened Jan. 6 at Children’s – Minneapolis.

With its work in the treatment of pediatric pain, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota opens new doors, literally.

Ten years after the start of an inpatient pain and palliative program, and nine years after the opening of Children’s original pain clinic, the Kiran Stordalen and Horst Rechelbacher Pediatric Pain, Palliative and Integrative Medicine Clinic, located on the fifth floor of the Tower building at Children’s – Minneapolis, celebrates its grand opening this month.

The 10,000-square-foot clinic, the first of its kind in the world, combines Children’s pain medicine, palliative care and integrative medicine services into a single space, creating a state-of-the-art healing environment for kids and their families. The clinic, named in recognition of the lead gift from Horst Rechelbacher, the late cosmetics entrepreneur, and his wife and business partner, Kiran Stordelan, furthers Children’s ability to minimize pain for patients and make their treatment, healing or hospice experience as comfortable, pleasant and peaceful as possible.

Stefan Friedrichsdorf, MD (left), is medical director of Children’s pain clinic.

Stefan Friedrichsdorf, MD (left), is medical director of Children’s pain clinic.

One of the clinic’s main features is the Snoezelen room, a controlled multisensory environment that combines sounds, scents, colors and lighting effects to stimulate and soothe patients, including those who are nonverbal, blind, hearing impaired or have cognitive delays.

Other features include a ceiling canopy of birch leaves comprised of more than 500 photos; sound-absorptive ceilings and padded, resilient floors that reduce the sound of footsteps and increase comfort for patients and clinicians; lighting designed to create a restful, intimate environment; and an interactive waterfall designed by Dr. Clement Shimizu, a former Children’s patient.

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VIDEO: Children’s Stefan Friedrichsdorf, MD, talks about palliative care.

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Images of flowers, plants and landscapes unique to Minnesota are incorporated throughout the clinic. The lobby features local artwork from nature photographer Craig Blacklock, whose images include larger-than-life birth leaves and bark, stones and plants. The sound is that of a natural environment: wind, water and bird calls.

subscribe_blogA massage room staffed by nationally certified massage therapists provides a space for CranioSacral Therapy, a gentle, hands-on approach that releases tensions deep in the body to relieve pain and improve health.

A gym and rehabilitation area with a treadmill, swing, video game system and other equipment is used to help encourage kids with chronic pain to move and exercise.

Expansion plans for the clinic, led by medical director Stefan Friedrichsdorf, MD, add acupuncture and day-treatment services for groups of children with chronic pain, and more massage therapists.

The Kiran Stordalen and Horst Rechelbacher Pediatric Pain, Palliative and Integrative Medicine Clinic officially opened Jan. 6.

PHOTO GALLERY: The Kiran Stordalen and Horst Rechelbacher Pediatric Pain, Palliative and Integrative Medicine Clinic opened Jan. 6, 2015, at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota’s Minneapolis campus.

Funds from triathlon to benefit Children’s-attended camp

Victory In Progress (VIP) is a newly renamed camp that has helped kids, including Children's patients, with cancer or blood disorders for 31 years. (Photo courtesy of CycleHealth)

Victory In Progress (VIP) is a newly renamed camp that has helped kids, including Children’s patients, with cancer or blood disorders for 31 years. (Photo courtesy of CycleHealth)

Q4_mighty_buttonCycleHealth, a Twin Cities-based nonprofit that raised more than $62,000 for Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota with its first-ever BreakAway Kids Tri (triathlon) in August, announced that funds raised from its 2015 event will benefit the newly renamed Victory In Progress (VIP), a camp for kids, including Children’s patients, with cancer or blood disorders.

The camp, which had lost its previous source of funding, was chosen in a unanimous vote by CycleHealth’s Kid Advisory Panel. Money raised at the BreakAway Kids Tri will cover the costs of sending more than 100 kids to the camp, which has helped kids for 31 years.

The second annual BreakAway Kids Tri takes place Aug. 22, 2015, at Lake Elmo Park Reserve.

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Meet Madeline

Madeline

What Madeline loves most about Children’s is that they care for her.

When exploring the impact of supporting a child’s tomorrow, we went straight to the source: our patients. We asked several to share how Children’s has played a role in their life today, and what they look forward to in their tomorrow. This is what we learned.

Q4_mighty_buttonName: Madeline

Age: 7

Hometown: Elk River

Madeline has received care from Children’s for heart surgery and C. difficile, a bacterial infection.

When Madeline grows up, she wants to be a house designer and build a house for her parents.

What Madeline loves most about Children’s is that they care for her.

Meet Aden

Aden

What Aden loves about Children’s is his nurse, Linda, who he says is “the best nurse in the nurse history!”

When exploring the impact of supporting a child’s tomorrow, we went straight to the source: our patients. We asked several to share how Children’s has played a role in their life today, and what they look forward to in their tomorrow. This is what we learned.

Q4_mighty_buttonName: Aden

Age: 8

Hometown: Eagan

Aden came to Children’s due to inflammation on his pancreas. He had a cyst removed from his bile duct.

When Aden grows up, he wants to be a doctor because he enjoys school.

What Aden loves about Children’s is his nurse, Linda, who he says is “the best nurse in the nurse history!”

Making of “Meet Abbey, future ballerina”

We get to work with amazing kids like Abbey every day at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. And each one has a dream that’s worth reaching.

The concept of the “Give today. Support tomorrows.” fundraising campaign is built on the spirit that every child has the chance to realize his or her hopes and dreams.

Take a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the commercial featuring Abbey, the future ballerina, and her family.

You can help our kids get to “when I grow up.” Give today. Support tomorrows.

Making of “Meet Abbey, future ballerina” from Children’s of Minnesota on Vimeo.

30-second commercial:

Meet Abbey, future ballerina from Children’s of Minnesota on Vimeo.