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Children’s Health—Donors

Discover what’s possible. Browse these features to find out more about the impact of University of Minnesota research, education, and care—and how you can help.

Julia Berg’s parents hope that her photo will be a palpable reminder of the importance of avoiding medical mistakes.

When 15-year-old Julia Berg died of massive internal bleeding at another hospital in 2005, the tragedy left her parents, Dan Berg and Welcome Jerde, and her sister, Hannah, reeling. But more bad news was yet to come: Julia's death could have been prevented.

Jimbo and Candi Fisher and their boys, Trey and Ethan, found hope in the Fanconi anemia experts at the University of Minnesota. Ethan (on the left) was diagnosed with the rare blood disease earlier this year. (Photo: Jim Bovin)

ESPN highlighted U of M research support for FA in a story about the Kidz1stFund™, founded by FSU football coach Jimbo Fisher and his wife, Candi, whose son, Ethan, has FA.

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Children’s health supporter Nick Leddy, an Eden Prairie, Minn. native who won the NHL championship with the Chicago Blackhawks this year, brought the Stanley Cup to U of M Amplatz Children's Hospital.

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When Leo Fung, M.D., died in 2005, family and colleagues of the former chief of urology at what's now University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital were stunned. To make sure Fung's legacy lives on, his family has created a lectureship series and a program for pediatric urology scholars in his honor.

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Minnesota Vikings center John Sullivan is giving patients at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital and their siblings a new place to play. Sullivan pledged $150,000 last fall to create the Sullivan Playground, a safe and accessible space designed by Minnesota company Landscape Structures for children of all abilities.

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Zach Sobiech, a Lakeland teen with bone cancer who gained worldwide acclaim for his music, died on May 20. He leaves a legacy that will improve outcomes for other children with cancer.

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The Minnesota Vikings’ players and franchise support Amplatz Children's Hospital year-round with patient visits, an Adopt A Room, special events, and much more.

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On April 13, thousands of runners and walkers turned out for Goldy’s Run on the University of Minnesota campus, benefiting University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital.

Photo at right: (Left to right) Candi and Jimbo Fisher, along with the UMN’s Margaret MacMillan, M.D., John Wagner, M.D., and President Eric Kaler and his wife Karen Kaler.

Kidz1stFund™ founders Candi Fisher and her husband, Florida State head football coach Jimbo Fisher, presented a $1 million check to support University of Minnesota research fighting Fanconi anemia—a rare blood disorder affecting their youngest son, Ethan.

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Volunteers from Procter & Gamble teamed up with Target to assemble 600 patient family care kits at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital on January 16. These kits help provide basic hygiene products to mothers and fathers of patients staying at the hospital.

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The eighth-ranked Gopher Men's Basketball team recently took a break from practice to visit University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital.

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Thank you to the Minnesota Timberwolves and Spire Federal Credit Union for providing more than 400 gifts for patients and families staying at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital.

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The Grand Lodge of Minnesota and Minnesota Masonic Charities have jointly sponsored an Adopt A Room at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital, continuing the Masons’ decades-long commitment to improving children's health.

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University of Minnesota physician Margaret MacMillan, M.D., spoke to more than 100 doctors, dentists, and medical students on Friday, November 9 at the Florida State University (FSU) College of Medicine about Fanconi anemia (FA).

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Minnesota Viking John Sullivan and many of his Vikings teammates visited with patients, families, and staff at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital for the Sullivan Halloween Huddle on October 30.

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John A. Sullivan, center for the Minnesota Vikings, is donating $150,000 to make a new University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital playground possible. To support the project, Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway has donated $25,000 through his Lead the Way Foundation, and the Minnesota Vikings have contributed the remaining $25,000 necessary for the $200,000 project. Sullivan announced his support at a dedication ceremony on October 30.

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ESPN's Tom Rinaldi talks with Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher about his son's battle with Fanconi anemia.

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Thanks to Minnesota Twins players Justin Morneau, Scott Diamond, Drew Butera, Brian Dozier, Darin Mastroianni, Cole De Vries, and T.C. Bear for visiting kids at Amplatz Children's Hospital.

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What’s better than watching the Big 10 spoof of “Call Me Maybe” in the morning? Watching it with Golden Gopher student-athletes, of course! Kendal Shell, Chris Hawthorne, and Peter Westerhaus of Golden Gopher basketball and football visited Amplatz Children's Hospital on July 13, 2012. Thank you to Golden Gopher student-athletes for their continued support of patients and families at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital.

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Minnesota Vikings Christian Ponder and Kyle Rudolph joined other local celebrities on the golf course for the fourth annual Champions for Children Celebrity Golf Classic on Monday, June 11 at Windsong Farm Golf Club. The tournament, hosted this year by Minnesota Viking John Sullivan, has raised more than $450,000 for University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital and directly supports the Adopt A Room program

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When Jimbo Fisher and his wife, Candi, learned last year that their youngest son, Ethan, has a rare blood disease called Fanconi anemia, they first dealt with the devastating news in private. Then the Florida State University football coach decided to use his visibility in the media to raise awareness of the disease and funding for research at the University of Minnesota.

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Vikings Pro Bowl linebacker Chad Greenway and his wife, Jenni, brought fun and excitement to the kids at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital by donating “Chad’s Locker.” The locker, housed in the hospital’s resource room, has new gadgets for kids to play with, including iPads, movies, Xbox games, and more. This donation was made through Greenway's "Lead The Way" Foundation.

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Golden Gopher student-athletes volunteered at Superhero Day at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital on March 29, 2012. Watch the video to see who their favorite superheroes are and learn how they helped make Superhero Day a success.

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Rebecca Kill and Gopher Football players take time to visit University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital, brightening the day for patients and families.

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Florida State University head football coach Jimbo Fisher and his wife, Candi, presented the University of Minnesota with a $500,000 check on March 3 to fund pioneering research to fight Fanconi anemia (FA)—a rare blood disorder affecting their youngest son, Ethan.

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Team members from Procter & Gamble and Target assembled more than 250 toiletry bags for mothers and fathers that have children staying at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital.

(From left to right) University physicians John Wagner, M.D., and Margaret MacMillan, M.D.; Minnesota Vikings quarterback and former FSU player, Christian Ponder; Ethan, Trey, Candi, and Jimbo Fisher; Rebecca Kill; and Karen Kaler and University President

When the Jimbo Fisher and his wife, Candi, learned earlier this year that their youngest son, 6-year-old Ethan, has a rare blood disease called Fanconi anemia, they dealt with the devastating news in private. Then they decided to use their visibility in the media to raise awareness of the disease as well as money for research at the University of Minnesota.

Children's Cancer Research Fund's 31st annual Dawn of a Dream event on November 5 raised more than $970,000 for pediatric cancer research at the University of Minnesota. Sue Hodder posthumously was awarded the organization's highest honor, its Dream Maker

Suzanne (Sue) Holmes Hodder thrived on helping others. She was always happy to support her friends and even strangers through projects she believed in. And she particularly cherished her volunteer role with Children's Cancer Research Fund, an organization launched by her close friends Diana and Norm Hageboeck after their daughter Katie died of leukemia in 1979 at age 13.

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The Minnesota Vikings and head coach Leslie Frazier have announced a gift of $200,000 for the Minnesota Vikings Adopt A Room at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital. The endowed gift from the Vikings will furnish a patient’s room with today’s groundbreaking technologies and comfortable amenities while securing a place for future pioneering medical advancements. The Vikings will also donate $240,000 from the Vikings Children’s Fund (VCF) to the University's Department of Pediatrics for promising research to treat and cure childhood diseases.

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When Florida State University football coach Jimbo Fisher and his wife, Candi, learned earlier this year that their son Ethan has a rare, life-threatening blood disorder called Fanconi anemia, they felt compelled to take action that would help not only Ethan but other children, too.

So they established the Kidz 1st Fund to raise money for Fanconi anemia research at the University of Minnesota. The University is a leader in discovering better ways to treat the disorder and in the pursuit of a cure.

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Looking back, Marcy Betcher thinks the seeds that would later grow into her family's support for University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital were planted back in 1997 at the sight of little red wagons.

In gratitude to his doctors, Matthew donated part of his bar mitzvah money to research at the University of Minnesota. [Photo: Alison Langer]

Of all the things a teenage boy might choose to do with his bar mitzvah money, giving a portion to medical research might seem low on the list. After all, there are Xboxes and iPods and skateboards to buy. But when Matthew, 13, gave his money to a research program led by John Wagner, M.D., at the University of Minnesota, he was sharing a heartfelt thanks.

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Nine-year-old Zachary "Zac" Bartz isn't your typical second-grader -- to many, he's an inspiration. Zachas a disorder called neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), which has caused tumors to grow in his brain and for which there is no known cure. Zachas endured multiple surgeries, countless rounds of chemotherapy, and 30 radiation treatments -- all conducted at clinics associated with the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota.

Retired neurosurgeon Thomas Kenefick, M.D., has found that both medicine and winemaking require a solid base of chemistry knowledge. (Photo courtesy of Kenefick Ranch Winery)

University of Minnesota alumnus Thomas Kenefick, M.D. (Class of 1960), followed an unconventional retirement path when he started Kenefick Ranch Winery in Napa Valley in 2000. "There aren't a lot of neurosurgeon-winemakers," he acknowledges.

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Nearly 30 teams participated in Dave Lee's Gutter Bowl 5, presented by WCCO Radio, raising $94,000. Proceeds from the event, which took place February 18 at Brunswick Zone XL in Brooklyn Park, helped to fund the WCCO Adopt A Room at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital.

Ben, Vivian, and Bob Calmenson in 2008 (Photo: Tim Rummelhoff)

Bob Calmenson lived decades longer than doctors predicted. But when he died at 60 in 2009, his life seemed far too short to family and friends. "He left us too soon," say his sisters, Margie Howell and Janet Lesgold. Yet the spirit of Bob, and his father, Ben, who died at age 90 just 13 days before Bob died, will live forever in Ben & Bob’s Room, one of the patient rooms designed to feel more like home under the Adopt A Room program at the new University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital.

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More than 6,000 children in Minnesota live with the pain of arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. But the state has only six pediatric rheumatologists to provide specialty care for these young patients.

Jaclyn Doffin holding Sophia and Tony Doffin holding Grace and Tyler. (Submitted photo)

When Jaclyn and Tony Doffin found out that they were having triplets, they got busy planning for their new life with three infants. One of the triplets was diagnosed with a heart condition prior to birth, but the family never anticipated the devastating complications that their baby would have as a result. When the triplets, Tyler, Sophia, and Grace, were born on September 8, 2008, doctors quickly determined that Grace had a more severe case of hypoplastic right heart syndrome than originally thought. “She was born with three [heart] chambers,” explains Tony. “She was missing the one that pumped [blood] to the lungs.”

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Children's Cancer Research Fund (CCRF) has teamed up with the Minnesota Medical Foundation (MMF) to help fund research to find a cure for pediatric cancers and other childhood diseases faster.

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Philanthropy makes a real difference in the lives of children with debilitating diseases and disorders. Because of Alfred and Ingrid Lenz Harrison’s $1 million challenge gift to the University of Minnesota’s Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) Initiative in 2007, for example, researchers here are digging deeper into the causes and possible therapies for autism and related conditions.

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Christopher Meyer, M.D., loved her career as a pediatric critical care doctor at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. It was an intense job that required her to be on her feet all day, but she was continually amazed at the strength of the families she met. But a childhood spine condition made it difficult and often painful for Meyer to stand for hours on end. She had several surgeries, trying to alleviate the pain, and each had a rather long recovery period when she couldn't work at all.

Minnesota Vikings players join community kids for a swim to encourage exercise as part of the Vikings Fitness Playbook program.

An alarming 32 percent of children today are considered overweight. About 16 percent are considered obese, and up to 6 percent are considered extremely obese. These statistics carry considerable health implications. Obese children have an increased risk of prematurely developing many serious chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Deanna (center) and Brett Favre present a $200,000 check to University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital pediatrician-in-chiefelect Joseph Neglia, M.D., M.P.H. (far left); president Kathie Taranto; and vice president of facilities and operations

Football legend Brett Favre and his wife, Deanna, made a surprise visit October 29 to announce their commitment of $200,000 to University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital through the Favre 4 Hope Foundation. The gift is directed to the Adopt A Room program, which will provide kids in the new hospital facility with a customized, private room that’s designed to give kids more control of their environment and accelerate healing.

Cameron Cassidy colored a picture of the new children's hospital. (Photo: Brady Willette)

The University of Minnesota andFairview Health Services have launched a $175 million campaign to support pediatric research, education, and care at the new home for University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital.

The campaign, led by the Minnesota Medical Foundation, already has raised $84 million — nearly half of its goal.

(Photo: Jim Bovin)

For the first time, University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital was the beneficiary of Dave Lee’s Gutter Bowl, presented by WCCO Radio. The main event, held January 22 at Brunswick Zone XL in Brooklyn Park, attracted 46 teams of bowlers and raised more than $60,000.

Thumbnail image for Cameron Cassidy colored a picture of the new children's hospital. (Photo: Brady Willette)

A hospital stay can be a tough time for children and their families. But for kids at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital, community partners are helping to make that time a little better.


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