Category Archives: Volunteer Profiles

Team Superstars: Christine Cheung

Christy CheungMotivated is one word you could use to describe Christine. A full-time employee with United Healthcare Military & Veterans as a business analyst and part-time employee as a home health aide, she finds time to squeeze in weekly volunteering at Children’s. Her ultimate goal is to become a Pediatric Oncologist, so volunteering in the Cancer & Blood Disorders Clinic seemed a natural fit. In her words, “I find such gratification in working with children, especially those that face physical/medical challenges. They don’t understand the strength they exude when they are able to smile or laugh through their pain.”

In addition to weekly volunteering, Christy is running in the Twin Cities Marathon as part of Team Superstars. She raised money for our organization as she believes in our mission and in our kids… the most amazing people on earth!

Check out her bio below:

“I am so thrilled for the opportunity to represent Children’s Minnesota as a part of Team Superstars in the 2015 Twin Cities Marathon!!!

Honestly, I am a bit nervous going into my training as this is only my second marathon and I am having to overcome a few injuries. However, I am more motivated than ever knowing that I am able to use my passion for running to support such a wonderful organization, amazing staff, and inspiring group of patients!!

The mission of Children’s is to promote the health of pediatric patients through high-quality, family-centered services, education, and research. I have personally witnessed this mission being carried out while working as a volunteer in the Cancer and Blood Disorders Clinic. Day after day, I watch as this exceptional staff goes above and beyond the responsibilities of their job for every patient and their family members. Care teams not only tend to the medical needs of their patients, but go out of their way to make children smile and laugh throughout their visit. Despite the medical hardships these patients are facing, I can tell they truly enjoy their time in the clinic, and it is because of the efforts of the staff!

However, the greatest of these motivators for me is (of course)… the patients! For those of you who don’t know me, several years ago I made the decision to pursue a career in medicine as a Pediatric Oncologist. Those of you who do know me definitely know that my life is dedicated to this goal, and I have been working hard towards it for a long time. Along this journey, I have experienced many aspects of medicine through work, volunteering, missions, and my education. While there are many things I love about this field, there is really only one that keeps me moving forward in this difficult process– seeing a joyful expression on the face of a child in the midst of receiving medical care. Even if it is just for a moment, there is something so uniquely inspiring about seeing a child forget about their physical pain and just smile or laugh… just be a child!!

Through volunteering at Children’s, I have now met a group of individuals who also understand what this looks/feels like and just how important it is to a child’s medical care! While I hope someday to be the one wearing the white coat.. I will settle (for now) supporting the kind-hearted and compassionate doctors/nurses of Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota by running this marathon!”


Red-Vested Rockstar: Chuck Fried

Chuck FriedChuck is the second of 8 children, a father of 4, has 13 grandchildren and 2 (and 1/3) great grandchildren! He is a twice-retired insurance field adjuster, who is glad to have made the decision to volunteer at Children’s.

Why he ROCKS?! “I’ve wanted to volunteer at Children’s for years, but little things (grandchildren for instance) got my attention. Then, my three-year-old great-granddaughter had a birthday party. She invited all her (seven) girlfriends, and they dressed up like princesses with sparkly dresses and shoes. They took over the house with laughter, shouting, singing and dancing. They had such a great time and convinced me that kids can be nice, fun creatures! I wish I would have figured this out sooner and come down (to Children’s) right away when I retired (for the second time) in 2003.

Prior to retiring I was an insurance field adjuster for thirty-four years. When I started, I carpooled with two other fellows. The long ride from St. Paul to the Minneapolis claim office gave us time to talk business; we discussed how we had to send a lot of the claims to outside, or independent, adjusters, and started comparing what we were paying out (with our salaries) for their services. This eventually led us to the decision to form our own firm of independent adjusters.”

Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?Outside of volunteering, and playing with the  ‘grands’ and ‘greatgrands’, I finally have time to read, especially current authors and classics that I never had time for.”

If you could create a new candy bar, what would be in it and what would you name it? “As far as creating my own candybar, the Reeses people did that with their “Fastbreak” bar: chocolate covered peanut bar mounted on nougat. It’s my favorite and I only waited about eighty years for it!”

Share a favorite volunteer experience or story: “I had a very rewarding experience a couple of weeks after I started. The nurse invited me into the room of a toddler who had been crying and coughing for hours. I went around the bed and put my arm through the bed bars. I started talking softly and rubbing his back… then I stopped talking and kept rubbing. Soon he stopped crying, but kept coughing… and then he stopped coughing. I kept rubbing, more gently. Then the nurse came in looking shocked- he had fallen asleep! She told me I did a good job, and I was pleased, because that was why I was there in the first place. It felt good to do the right thing.”

Choosing Children’s: Marilyn Quamme

Marilyn Quamme“I grew up in a very small town in southeast North Dakota. After nursing school, I moved to the Cities and have been here ever since. I worked at an adult hospital for 8+ years and then moved to Minneapolis Children’s where I worked in surgery for 34+ years. I retired 7 years ago and have enjoyed spending my winters in Mesa, Arizona since then. I have always loved kids and thought I would someday volunteer at Children’s rocking babies. I believe in the mission of Children’s and was treated well as an employee so wanted to give back. Someone suggested I volunteer in the Surgery Family Waiting Room. It has been a good fit for me; I know what’s happening back in the OR and feel I can use my knowledge to help allay the fears of families. I love talking to the families and kids before they go into surgery, and I get to see lots of people I used to work with.

One of my most rewarding experiences happened this summer. A nine year old girl whose younger sibling was having surgery preferred to stay with me when her parents went to reunite with their other daughter. She asked if I had time to listen to a story, to which I replied ‘yes’. She was very animated when telling me about the book she was reading. When I had to tend to business, she would patiently wait for me, and pick up right where she left off. When it was time for them to go home, she wrote me a note that said, “Marilyn, you’re a great volunteer”, signed her name, and gave me a big hug. Moments like these make it all worthwhile, and the note still hangs on my refrigerator.”

Red-Vested Rockstar: Abby Lukowicz

Abbie Lukowicz- Red Vested RockstarWhy she ROCKS?! “I’m currently a Pre-Med/Biology student at the University of St. Thomas, graduating this May. I first heard about Children’s Hospital after my roommate, Andrea, would come home from her volunteer shifts practically glowing from all of the amazing experiences she had helping out families and patients. I absolutely love working with kids, and since I’m looking to go into pediatrics after Medical School, I applied to Children’s and have been loving my decision ever since!”

Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering? “I enjoy running (I’m currently training to run my first marathon!), reading books, doing Toxicology research in a Biology lab at school, and hanging out with friends.”

Do you have any kids or pets of your own?  “I have a Shih Tzu named Bug and two fluffy cats named Figaro and Dexter.”

If you could create a new candy bar, what would be in it and what would you name it? “If I could create a new candy bar, it would have lots of espresso beans, salted caramel, and dark chocolate. I’d call it the ‘It’s Monday…Where’s the Caffeine?’ bar.”

Share a favorite volunteer experience or story: “There aren’t enough fingers on my hands or toes on my feet to count my favorite volunteer stories and experiences! But if I had to choose one that stood out most, it would be when I encountered a patient who was a cancer survivor and had stayed at Children’s for an extended time while in treatment. His mom asked if I could take them to the rooftop garden; once we got there, mom and son began to reminisce on the long hours the family spent at the garden when he was in the hospital. While her son played with the water fountain, the mom expressed how thankful she was to see her son healthy, and able to visit and play… much different than the last time they were there. This made me realize how fragile life can be and how we shouldn’t take the little things for granted.”

Red-Vested Rockstar: Molly Danahy

Molly Danahy, RV RockstarWhy she rocks?! “I am currently a nursing student at St. Kates, graduating this May. I started volunteering because my dream job is to work in pediatric nursing. Spending time with pediatric patients never feels like a job to me.”

What is your favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?  “Outside of volunteering I like to spend time with family. I am also a huge movie buff, and I love going bowling with friends.”

Do you have any pets or kids of your own?  “I don’t have any kids or pets but I have always wanted a dog. Someday!”

If you could create a new candy bar, what would be in it and what would you name it?  “My candy bar would be pure chocolate and lots of it! I guess I would call it a ‘Mollybar’!”

Share a favorite volunteer experience or story “I’ve had so many great volunteer experiences at Children’s it’s hard to choose just one. Being able to play games and chat with the kids makes me feel like I make a difference and that’s what it’s all about. Every kid brings a special experience each volunteer day.”

Choosing Children’s: Kate Hanley

Kate and family, enjoying an afternoon adventure


A tick bite — that’s what started Kate’s relationship with Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

In a time of uncertainly, Kate relied on the staff at Children’s to provide care for her son, and answers related to his illness. Her positive experience led her to later giving her time to our organization and those that matter most: the kids and families.

“I was 12-years old and still playing in little league softball when I coached my first team full of second-graders! Kids are very present; very in the moment. They’re rarely afraid to tell you what’s on their mind and they see things with an openness and honesty that people tend to lose with age. Anything is possible with children because they are full of magic and they keep us growing! Fast forward a couple decades and I am married with three school-aged kids of my own. I spend my time with my kids, volunteering, playing guitar, singing, dancing, reading, writing and being with my large family. Oh! And eating! I LOVE eating all the good food the Twin Cities has to offer!

The summer we moved to the Cities our son was bit by a tick and contracted Lyme’s Disease. When we took him to Children’s in Minneapolis we still didn’t know what was wrong, but the staff was very attentive and took good care of our boy. There was a Child Life Specialist who came to see us all before his surgery and she did a great job of preparing our son, and his siblings for what lay ahead. It was so unexpected and comforting to have someone there to focus purely on us in our time of uncertainty. A few years later I had some time to volunteer and thought first of Children’s Hospital. I love being able to help parents and their kids in times of distress because I believe they need extra care and attention.

One of my favorite memories while volunteering at Children’s was the night I visited with a teenager who had been sidelined from playing hockey. She couldn’t do any big physical activity and was very down-hearted. So I took her down to a family room to play some hockey of our own. We grabbed some 12-inch mini souvenir hockey sticks she had in her room, some Starburst candies and some styrofoam cups from the lounge and went head to head shooting it out. We had a blast with our make-shift game of “kneeling hockey”, and I even made her laugh with my terrible slap-shot. She was happy to be playing again and I was happy to be a part of her healing.”

Red-Vested Rockstar: Huechee Yang

Huechee YangMeet Huechee!

Why he rocks?! “What got me into volunteering was actually my parents. They thought that I needed to gain learning experiences and try new things. I was unsure at first, but I got used to it and knew that I was helping someone which felt pretty good. Something fun that I like to do is play with my little brothers from time to time.”

What is your favorite thing to do outside of volunteering? “My favorite thing to do outside of volunteering is to practice new things. For example, sometimes I play the piano because it is fun and it is something different from what I usually do.”

Do you have any pets of kids of your own? “I used to have a pet hamster, but at the moment I do not have any pets.”

If you could create a new candy bar, what would be in it and what would you name it? “If I could create a new candy bar, the inside of it would be something great like fruits. The name of the candy bar would be ‘Good One’.”

Share a favorite volunteer experience or story “Whenever I get to hang out with the patients and connect with them makes for a favorite experience.”

Red-Vested Rockstar: Keziah Lawson

Keziah LawsonWhy she ROCKS?! “I am the oldest of five children. Because of this, I have always been comfortable around infants and kids. I had been to Children’s once when younger for pneumonia, and remember it as a positive experience and was familiar with their good reputation. About a year and a half ago an acquaintance of mine mentioned volunteering at Children’s hospital to me. Being that I want to go into nursing and enjoy kids, this sounded like a great opportunity! I looked into it, and loved how many opportunities they had.”

Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering? “Outside of volunteering I love to run. My favorite race is Ragnar, a two hundred mile relay race. I love that when I run it is just me and the road, no other distractions. This year I am running the Warrior Dash and am very excited.”

Do you have any kids or pets of your own? “I have two dogs; one is a black Chihuahua, Pomeranian mix named Violet, and the other is a Sheltie named Annabel. Violet is very timid and will often sit and “cry” to be held.  Annabel is an older dog so she spends a lot of time sleeping. I like to take my dogs for walks with my brothers and sisters.”

If you could create a new candy bar, what would be in it and what would you name it? ” It would be s’mores flavored, as s’mores are my favorite dessert! It would have marshmallows and graham crackers in the middle and then be dipped in chocolate. I am not sure what I would call it but I am sure that it would be very tasty!”

Share a favorite volunteer experience or story “My favorite volunteer experience happened a couple weeks ago. We had an event at St. Paul with Wild player, Ryan Carter. The press came and it was a huge deal. After the program, the children and their families got to get his signature and talk to him. It was so sweet to watch these children who are going through a really hard time, have so much excitement about meeting one of their role models. The parents were so thankful for the time that was put into organizing the event. It was one of those times when I got to see the impact Children’s hospital has on these patients and it was really neat to be a part of.”

Choosing Children’s: Joyce Sidman

Joyce Sidman-square

Tell us about yourself: “I am a children’s book author and teacher. I spend my days trying to capture, in words, the stories of what goes on around us. And when I visit schools to teach writing residencies, I try to encourage children to do the same: to put a little part of themselves in words.”

“My main passions are words, books, and the outdoors. I was always writing or drawing as a child, using words or pictures to help me understand and celebrate the world. My career has been in children’s literature, mostly poetry books about the natural world. I also love photography. A good day for me is: wake up early, wander around outside and photograph the little creatures I find in my gardens, then go to my desk and write. Or: a day of teaching in a classroom of kids who are a having fun experimenting with words.

I’ve been lucky enough to have a few of my books recognized with major awards. That means I get to travel to national conferences, give presentations and meet authors, teachers, and librarians from all over the country. It can be very thrilling! But at heart, I am a homebody. I am happiest when I have a good idea percolating in my imagination, and the time to write it down.”

 What led you to volunteer at Children’s? “When my two sons were young, I volunteered in their schools. But eventually they grew up (darn them!), so I looked for some other way to contribute. Even though I am not in medicine, the field fascinates me. My husband would come home every day with stories from Children’s, and I thought: I’d love to know what it’s really like there. So I made the plunge, gravitating toward the library because I know books. That was almost fifteen years ago, and I’ve never looked back.”

 “Working in the library is a wonderful mix of visiting with kids (and parents) and handling books. I love trundling the big library wagon around the floors and seeing kids’ faces light up when we have just the right book for them. I enjoy chatting with their parents, and helping them relax for a moment in their stressful day. I love working with the staff in the Family Resource Center and watching the kids in Sibling Play while I’m shelving books. Working at Children’s takes me out of my quiet writing world and into a rich community of people helping other people.”

Red-Vested Rockstar: Ron Coleman

Ron Coleman

Why he rocks! “I got into volunteering shortly after moving to Minnesota from California. I was retired, and could not find my bearings during the long winter months, so I started volunteering. I found that helping others, helped me.”

Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering? “golfing and gardening are my passions. I love being outdoors, digging in the dirt, whether it’s golfing :) or gardening.”

Do you have any kids or pets of your own? “I have four kids and five grandkids, all on the east coast. I also have a cocker spaniel named Jazz.”

If you could create a new candy bar, what would be in it and what would you name it? “My candy bar would be named ‘nuts about you’. It would consist of walnuts, pecans, cranberries and pure dark chocolate bits. No sugar added!

Share a favorite volunteer experience or story: “My favorite volunteer experience is always the same. I love to see the kids laugh and smile.”