Category Archives: Philanthropy

Switchfoot visit patients, perform songs at Children’s – Minneapolis

Switchfoot are (from left) Chad Butler, Tim Foreman, Jon Foreman, Jerome Fontamillas and Drew Shirley.

Switchfoot are (from left) Chad Butler, Tim Foreman, Jon Foreman, Jerome Fontamillas and Drew Shirley. The San Diego, Calif., rock band performed songs and played BINGO at Star Studio.

Rock band Switchfoot​ — Jon Foreman, Tim Foreman, Chad Butler, Jerome Fontamillas and Drew Shirley — visited Star Studio and patients at Children’s – Minneapolis on Friday.

The San Diego, Calif., quintet spent the morning and afternoon playing music, BINGO and visiting patients and families in Star Studio, Children’s in-house TV studio, before their show later that night in Minneapolis. The band signed autographs, posed for photos and played songs in individual patient rooms.

“Hello Hurricane” — Switchfoot, live from Star Studio at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota from Children’s of Minnesota on Vimeo.

Passionate runner and Children’s employee to go extra mile for kids

Nathan

Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota employee and Team Superstars member Nathan Branson is running the Twin Cities Marathon to raise money for Children’s.

When Nathan Branson isn’t at Children’s repairing and maintaining medical equipment, you’ll likely find him at Lake Harriet, pounding laps with his local running club.

subscribe_blogThis summer, he’s running with extra purpose. He’s training for the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, which he’ll run on behalf of Children’s charity team, Team Superstars. He’s also fundraising for Children’s urgent needs.

“After my last marathon in 2014, I was thinking about taking some time off, but when I heard about running TCM for Children’s, I was all in,” he said. “What a great idea to be able to do something I love like running and be able to give back to the place I love to work, Children’s.”

He has worked at Children’s for eight years in the biomedical department as an engineer. He loves starting his mornings at Children’s, where he says everyone he encounters wishes him a good morning.

Nathan regularly participates in Children’s HeartBeat 5000 and Pine Tree Runs 5K/10K and gives back by donating paid time off.

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

Ralph to go the distance for granddaughter in October

Ralph Imholte

Ralph Imholte is running the Twin Cities Marathon in honor of his granddaughter, Harper.

Brady Gervais 

On the first day registration opened for the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, Ralph Imholte signed up, becoming the inaugural member of Children’s charity endurance team, Team Superstars.

For Imholte, 62, running for a cause is one thing in his life that’s simply pure and good, he said. He’s running in honor of his granddaughter, Harper, whose life was saved at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota when she was 3 years old. She was diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome due to E. coli, and she suffered severe damage to her kidneys, liver and pancreas. She spent two months in Children’s pediatric intensive care unit and required a transplant.

Four years later, Harper is thriving.

It won’t be Imholte’s first marathon, but it will be the first time he has run more than 26.2 miles in five years. Neither the distance nor the fundraising seem to faze him. He has raised $3,650 for Children’s and has no plans of stopping.

Imholte gives back in other ways, too. He joins his family every year and serves a meal at the Ronald McDonald House inside Children’s – Minneapolis through the Cooks for Kids program.

“When I get to the finish line (of the Twin Cities Marathon), I know the next question will be what more can I do?” Ralph said.

Support Ralph and other runners today.

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

German man biking from Pacific to Atlantic oceans visits Minneapolis

German cyclist Jörg Richter is biking from Washington to Connecticut to raise awareness of rare pediatric illnesses.

German cyclist Jörg Richter is biking from Washington to Connecticut to raise awareness of rare pediatric illnesses.

subscribe_blogErin Keifenheim

The Cancer and Blood Disorders Clinic at Children’s – Minneapolis received a special visit today from Jörg Richter, a German cyclist who is biking from Washington to Connecticut to raise awareness of rare pediatric illnesses. Richter, who works for German health care insurance agency AOK, took a leave from his job to make the 4,000-plus mile journey across the country. He set out in early June, marking the start of his journey by dipping the rear wheel of his bike in the Pacific Ocean near Seattle. Throughout the next month, he traveled through Idaho, Montana and North Dakota before reaching the Twin Cities on July 20.

Richter has been an active cyclist for many years and first had the inspiration to cycle around the world when he was 8 years old. Now at age 55, he decided to cross the item off his bucket list when two close friends died unexpectedly.

Children's oncologist Joanna Perkins , MD (left), and Jörg Richter stand outside the Children's Speciality Center in Minneapolis.

Children’s oncologist Joanna Perkins, MD (left), and Jörg Richter stand outside the Children’s Speciality Center in Minneapolis.

“I decided that was the moment to get it done and not put off my dream,” Richter said. “So many kids and adults aren’t able to fulfill their dreams because of their diseases.” Richter said he hopes his trip will help give children with rare diseases a better chance to fulfill their dreams.

Throughout his journey, Richter has enjoyed the scenery and wildlife he has encountered — including a roadside visit from a bear in the Cascade Mountains. But the most enjoyable part of his trip has been the people he has encountered and the hospitality he has been shown.

“I’m always meeting people who welcome me and invite me to stay,” he said. Complete strangers have stopped him along his route to talk about the Bavarian flag on the back of his bike; others have donated to his cause, paid for his meals or helped him find lodging. All have been supportive of his goal to raise $20,000 for the Care-for-Rare Foundation, which reached out to Children’s to arrange the special visit.

Richter expects to make it to his final destination in Connecticut by Sept. 7, with stops along the way in Chicago, along the Great Lakes and Niagara Falls. Once he reaches the East Coast, he’ll mark the end of his journey by dipping the front wheel of his bike in the Atlantic Ocean, completing his West-to-East Coast tour of the United States.

Richter has been documenting his journey on the AOK Facebook page.

Pair of Minnesota teens make pillowcases for hospitalized kids

Hannah Bremer (left) and Sophia Schmidt established the Sweet Dreams Project as high school freshmen.

Hannah Bremer (left) and Sophia Schmidt established the Sweet Dreams Project as high school freshmen.

Members in the foundation at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota decided to spend June celebrating kids giving to kids through the creation of Youth Philanthropy Month. Throughout the month, we’ll shine a spotlight on kids who have donated their time, money or efforts to Children’s.

Today we’d like to introduce Hannah Bremer and Sophia Schmidt, both 18, a pair of Rogers High School seniors (graduating today!) and founders of the Sweet Dreams Project, an effort to make pillowcases for patients at Children’s.

What did you/your group donate to Children’s?

Our original and primary project is our homemade pillowcases. Our pillowcase project was inspired by the homemade pillowcases Sophia received from her grandmother when she was a patient at Children’s six years ago. Remembering how the pillowcases lifted Sophia’s spirits and made her hospital room feel more like home, we decided to make our own pillowcases for patients when we were freshmen in high school. What started as a way to spend our summer vacation soon turned into something much bigger, and we have since expanded our project by collecting thousands of teddy bears and craft supplies for patients through drives in our community.

Why did you/your group choose to donate to Children’s?

Both of us have been patients at Children’s, so we know on some level what it is like to be a hospitalized child. We also know that Children’s treats every single child with the utmost care and respect, and we wanted to give back in a small way.

subscribe_blogHow does donating/giving to others make you feel?

We both have been blessed with good health, and to be able to pay it forward in this way is incredibly rewarding. Just knowing that we were able to bring a little bit of happiness to someone going through such a difficult time makes everything worth it.

How would you encourage others to support Children’s?

Through our project, we have learned that it doesn’t take much to help others. It doesn’t have to be a huge donation or a lot of work. Just a small gift, like a homemade pillowcase or a new box of crayons or a cuddly stuffed animal, can make a big difference. What seems ordinary to you might make another child’s day extraordinary.

If you won the lottery and shared some of your winnings with Children’s what would you want that money to fund?

We would want the money to fund something entertaining for the patients. Having something fun to do can provide an escape from whatever the patient is facing and be beneficial to the healing process. It’s very important to us that patients get a chance to be a regular kid and have fun doing the things they would normally do at school or with their friends.

TEDx Talk: “The untapped potential of today’s youth” w/ Hannah Bremer and Sophia Schmidt

3-year-old donates birthday money to Children’s

Vienna Rodriguez, 3, and her family donated $200 to Children's for her birthday. (Photo by Sandra Aguilera Photography)

Vienna Rodriguez, 3, of St. Paul, Minn., and her family donated $200 to Children’s for her birthday. (Photo by Sandra Aguilera Photography)

On their special day, generous kids (and kids at heart) from across Minnesota are choosing to celebrate in a unique way. As members of Children’s Cake & Candles Club, they enlist the help of their family and friends to support our patients. Instead of birthday gifts, members request that money, toys, books or blankets be sent to our hospitals. By helping out other kids, members are learning about the power of generosity… and getting a birthday experience they won’t soon forget!

Meet Vienna, a 3-year-old girl whose family donated $200 to Children’s instead of buying her birthday presents.

subscribe_blogName: Vienna May Rodriguez

Hometown: St. Paul, Minn.

Age: 3

What did you/your group donate to Children’s?

We donated $200 to Children’s – St. Paul.

Why did you/your group choose to donate to Children’s?

For my daughter’s birthday, we decided we wanted to donate money instead of her getting presents, she also thought it would be nice for the children in the hospital to benefit from the donation.

How does donating/giving to others make you feel?

It makes me feel good to give back, especially to kids. My daughter’s story is one within itself, and we felt thankful for everything Children’s did for us while she stayed there that we knew donating would be an awesome way to say thank you to the staff and other children that could benefit from it.

How would you encourage others to support Children’s?

I would encourage others to support Children’s by telling them how their donation can help in so many ways at Children’s and how they are already adding awesome new things for both the patients, their siblings and parents to make them feel more comfortable.

If you won the lottery and shared some of your winnings with Children’s, what would you want that money to fund?

I would definitely want some of the winnings to go to the neonatal intensive care unit, where my daughter spent 21 days after being transferred there from St. John’s after birth. I would want it to go to more kangaroo chairs, and cameras for the parents to watch their babies when they’re away, paying for meals and parking for the families who have to stay there long to help take the burden off them.

Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota is celebrating kids who help kids by recognizing June as Youth Philanthropy Month.

The ‘funnest’ place in the hospital

Grace Vokaty loves the Child Life Zone at Children's — St. Paul.

Grace Vokaty loves the Child Life Zone at Children’s — St. Paul.

Grace Vokaty

When I was 7 years old, I came to Children’s – St. Paul because I had type 1 diabetes. When I was in the hospital, I was sad because there isn’t a cure for my disease. But then I was invited to visit the Child Life Zone, which was made possible by Mr. Garth Brooks and his friends at Teammates for Kids. The Zone is so fun, and now whenever I see the doctor, I tell my parents that we have to stop and play.

subscribe_blogI enjoy coloring and painting, air hockey, video games, the photo booth and lots of other stuff. I like that it’s a fun place to go while I’m at the hospital. And when I’m not feeling happy, it cheers me up.

Plus it’s nice to meet other kids like me who are patients, too. Even my parents enjoy it because I can play there while they are taking classes and learning how they can help me with my diabetes.

In November, I had the chance to meet Mr. Brooks and to tell him thank you for building the Child Life Zone. I told him that it is the “funnest” place I have ever been and that he did a really great job. It makes me happy to know that people from all over care about kids at Children’s, and I hope that when other kids go there it makes them smile.

Grace Vokaty is a patient at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

Longtime Children’s employee goes extra mile for kids

Valerie Butterfield (center) with her dad, Keith (left), and brother, Douglas (Photo courtesy of Valerie Butterfield)

Valerie Butterfield (center) with her dad, Keith (left), and brother, Douglas (Photo courtesy of Valerie Butterfield)

Brady Gervais

Thirty years ago Valerie Butterfield had her first Children’s experience. Her brother, Douglas, who was 7 at the time, was diagnosed with and treated for type 1 diabetes.

This was a scary time for the entire family. Thanks to the progress in juvenile diabetes research and treatment, a diabetes diagnosis is more manageable today.

Knowing what her family went through, Valerie, a longtime Children’s employee in information technology services, has decided to support other patients and families beyond her day job. On Oct. 4, she’ll run her first marathon — the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon — on behalf of Children’s charity running team, Team Superstars.

subscribe_blog“My family thinks it’s pretty awesome,” the mother of two said.

Valerie said she’s excited to raise awareness for a cause in which she believes and is humbled by the financial and emotional support of her friends, family and colleagues. Her dad, Keith, also is a Children’s employee, with more than 20 years of dedicated service. To date, she has raised more than $300.

Valerie always has been active off and on in running and various sports activities. Two years ago, following the birth of her second child, she began running regularly and joined Moms on the Run. She has run many distance races, half-marathons and the Ragnar Relay — an overnight, 200-mile epic relay with 12 of your closest friends (or strangers).

In addition to running her first marathon for a cause, she wants to set an example for her two sons.

“I’m grateful that I have healthy children,” she said, “and I want to show my children an example of healthy living.”

Support your favorite Superstar’s fundraising efforts by giving today.

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

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.