Buying a wristband helps support the Patients at Gillette's
Below are the stories of the patients whom have been highlighted during a Flood Run event.
This is what the events are all about.
Catherine “Kate” Harkness was born at 23 weeks into the pregnancy at 1 pound 2 ounces. She and her twin brother, Bennett (1 pound 7 ounces at birth) were born with serious health issues. Kate was in the Natal Intensive Care Unit for 158 days and had 5 surgeries while she was there.
Now, Kate is all about pink, unicorns, and defying expectations.
When Kate’s doctors suspected she had a form of Cerebral Palsy, they advised her parents, “Gillette is the place to go. It sets the bar on caring for kids who have CP.” The Gillette team that surrounds Kate includes surgeons, physicians, nurses, and physical and occupational therapists. They put together a program for Kate including custom ankle-foot orthosis and a custom-fit walker. It also included selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) surgery. This irreversible procedure corrects muscle spasticity by cutting the nerve rootlets in the spinal cord that are sending abnormal signals to the muscles.
Kate’s parents were nervous about the surgery, but knew that Kate is a spunky young girl who would not want to settle for less.
Kate’s surgery was successful. Immediately afterwards, there were 6 weeks of intensive inpatient rehab therapy. She was doing out-of-bed therapy three days after surgery. Her stuffed rabbit, Violet, was incorporated into the therapy sessions, which make the sessions seem more like play than hard work.
Kate’s recovery is a shining example of her family’s motto, “Never set limits.”
See more of Kate's story at: https://www.gillettechildrens.org/khm/pink-unicorns-and-sdr-surgery
Working towards a future where kids can be kids and all unicorns can ride motorcycles.
Bennett has a million dollar smile.
He plays baseball and wheel chair basketball, is a Boy Scout, is a big brother, and helps out on the family farm. He also has had 14 major surgeries by the time he was 7 years old. He has had several since that time, the latest occurring in April 2021.
When Bennett was born, his parents were told he would never walk. That was before they went to Gillette. With a lot of care from Bennett's team; including doctors, nurses, and therapists; Bennett has made great strides.
When he was 6, he walked his Step-Mom-To-Be down the aisle to be married to his father.
Bennett was born with spina bifida, a group of disabilities which affect the spine. Often, this is a condition where the spinal cord doesn't form correctly while the baby is in the womb. To Bennett's family, spina bifida means working with the disability; such as things like catheters, medicine, diaper changes, adjusting chest and leg braces, changing bandages, and caring for sores on his feet.
One of every 1,500 babies are born with some form of Spina Bifida, with various levels of intensity.
With the care of his family and his team at Gillette Bennett gets to be who he is.
That is what it is all about. Helping kids be kids.
To read more of Bennett's story, go to Gillette's website.
Gillette has been helping kids be kids for 125 years.
Emme Kersten loves to swim, play basketball and maybe most of all, baseball!
She’s also a patient at Gillette Children’s and has been working with Gillette’s medical team since she was 4 months old.
Emme was born prematurely at 35 weeks with severe anemia, which is a condition that involves a lack of red blood cells responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to vital organs throughout the body. While Emme was able to recover, the lack of oxygen resulted in a condition known as cerebral palsy (CP).
Jessica Kersten, Emme’s mother recounts, “When Emme began to display symptoms related to cerebral palsy at four months, we had spent enough time at Gillette to know that was where we wanted her to be. She’s been doing a variety of therapies there since she was 9 months old.”
“What I’d tell other people about Emme’s care team at Gillette, is it’s not just that they’re so talented. They are, but they didn’t just help Emme, they helped us as a family better support her at home,” Jessica says. “They shifted the conversation away from what she wouldn’t be able to do, to the reality that she would do many things, just some of them differently. Once we had that mindset, we were able to pave a way forward.”
In the months and years that followed, Emme continued in her therapies with the spunk and determination she’s become known for all throughout the hospital.
This past November, Emme had Single Event Multilevel Surgery to correct hip dysplasia, and has been diligently working in her rehabilitation process to strengthen her body. She’s excited to head off to middle school this fall, and has aspirations to one day become a police officer and own a motorcycle.
Gillette has been helping kids be kids for 125 years.
The riders of the Flood Run have been supporting Gillette since 2000 and we intend to continue that partnership.
Colton Byrnes is one of the newest superheros. At 6 years old, he has handled 57 surgeries. Yet he is mostly known for his love of singing and dancing. He could probably perform the entire production of "Hamilton" if you asked him. He is described by his parents as a warm and loving child.
Colton's family jokingly call him the 20-million dollar man as that is about the cost of his medical care to date. It is worth every penny, but it is not easy.
Colton's condition is called VACTERL which is a catch-all term for a congenital condition that affects multiple areas of the body. Some of Colton's procedures include 2 spinal cord reattachment surgeries, multiple open-heart and brain surgeries, a tracheostomy and G-tube, tubes in his ears, and hand surgery.
The Gillette Assistance Program (GAP) helps the families afford the cost of the medical expenses.
The funds brought in with the Flood Run directly helps families like Colton's family. It helps them provide the necessary care to their children and be able to focus on their children instead of on their medical costs.
Thank you to everyone who contributes to the Flood Run including our volunteers, riders, and sponsors. You are directly helping kids be kids.
Get more information at: https://www.gillettechildrens.org/khm/not-all-heroes-wear-capes-but-colton-does
Your wristband helps kids be kids.
Supporting the Flood Run Supports Superheros
Imagine a real-life "Field of Dreams." Not in the movies or some fantasy land, but in the backyard of a Gillette family's home just outside of the Twin Cities. That's exactly what Leah and Nick Feyereisen have created. The inspiring story began when Leah gave birth to triplet boys—all with disabilities of varying degrees. One of their triplets, Tanner (now 9), was born with cerebral palsy and clubfoot.
The boys, especially Tanner, faced bullying as a result of their disabilities. As a result, their parents decided to build a simple backyard baseball field, where all are welcome and treated with kindness. It's a place where kids can see Tanner in action and realize he's a baseball loving kid not so different from themselves. Fast forward a few years and the field has turned out to resemble that real-life "Field of Dreams"—because kids of all abilities from near and far have been flocking to the sandlot to play.
Watch Tanner's story and opening day on YouTube
Each year the Feyereisens host an opening day event in May to officially kick-off summer at the field. Opening day grows a little each season—this year, guess how many people were there?
More than 50 kids of all ages and abilities, and dozens of parents gathered to celebrate opening day 2016. Super America donated food for the event, Minnesota Twins announcer Jim Cunningham called the game via a PA system, and there was a trumpeting duo on hand to play the national anthem, seventh inning stretch and more. Gillette communicators were there to capture the event. We detailed the festivities and the field's powerful message in the video above.
Several journalists were on-hand to cover the excitement as well:
KSTP reporter Ellen Galles covered the event. The nearly 6 minute story aired on the 10 p.m. news and later on affiliates KAAL, WDAY and KSTC.
Major League Baseball (MLB) writer Rhett Bollinger wrote a story and published an accompanying video for MLB.com.
The Feyereisen's local newspaper, the New Richmond News, was at the field to document opening day.
Tanner eloquently summed up the mantra of the field during an interview with KSTP. He said the field is a safe place for kids who want to join in the fun of America's favorite pastime. "They know they are not going to be bullied and they are not going to feel sad," he said.
Ruth Evelyn likes to be called RE. She is a bundle of energy with an enchanting smile. RE loves roller coasters, dancing, gymnastics, Disney princesses and coloring. She likes to play in her neighborhood park; slides are her favorite.
RE had a dream to ride a bicycle like any other child, even though she was born without arms. RE’s mom, Karlyn Pranke, is a firm believer that anything is possible for her daughter. RE has been beating the odds since her birth. She makes iPda videos, feeds herself, and creates artwork using her feet.
To make the dream a reality, Karlyn turned to the staff at Gillette Children’s Specialty Health Care, where RE has received care since she was born. The result is a custom-made device that rests against RE’s shoulders and connects to her bicycle’s handlebars. She can now steer safely and confidently.
Read more about RE’s story on Gillette’s website: https://www.gillettechildrens.org/khm/a-girl-a-bike-and-a-dream
The Fall Flood Run 2020 artwork showcased artwork drawn by RE. The drawings are great for any child. The fact that RE uses her feet make it phenomenal.
Cameron is an outgoing ball of energy who loves making new friends. His bright red hair is a perfect match for his personality.
Cameron was born at 26 weeks along with his twin sister, Kendall. The day after Mother’s Day in 2012, doctors told his parents that he would never walk, talk, or eat on his own. But today he can do all these things—and he especially loves to talk!
This past summer, Cameron came to Gillette for major surgery followed by a six week hospital stay to address symptoms of his cerebral palsy—a condition that affects movement and has no cure.
During Cameron’s hospital stay, he made friends with virtually everyone, including a huge Great Dane named Bishop, who is part of Gillette’s animal-assisted therapy program! This program is funded 100% by donor support.
Cameron completed his inpatient rehabilitation and has since returned home. He continues outpatient therapy at Gillette’s clinic in Minnetonka. This summer he got the special opportunity to visit Target Field, walk from 3rd base to home plate (essentially scoring the game’s “first” run) and meet Joe Mauer!
There’s no doubt that Cameron’s going places. Where, however? It’s too soon to tell.
Ashlyn sustained life-threatening injuries when a truck hit her family’s car. Doctors at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare discovered severe swelling, bruising and bleeding in her brain, along with skull fractures and broken bones. Her parents feared for the worst, but prayed for the best, during her 12-day coma. When she awoke, they worried she would be different. They worried that her brain had sustained permanent damage. Ashlyn’s care at Gillette was critical to diagnosing and treating her brain injury. Intense physical, occupational and speech therapy helped Ashlyn regain strength and mobility. Her personality, which her family describes as “fierce,” began to reemerge.
Now, you have the unique opportunity to help provide critical services to children like Ashlyn. Your donation helps Gillette kids receive the best medical care possible—so they can achieve healthier, happier and more independent lives.
Because you care, kids who have disabilities and complex medical conditions have the treatment and vital services they need to thrive.