Inside Gillette Blog

Kaeli and Lily’s Children’s Miracle Network ‘Champions’ Trip

Posted On: 12/03/2013

By: Adele Harris, Gillette patient mom

Earlier this year, we were so honored when our girls, Kaeli, 12 years old, and Lily, 8 years old, were asked to be Minnesota’s, Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare ambassador champions for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Champions Across America program. Every state is represented by a child, or siblings that are treated at a CMN Hospital. The champions program brings together every state’s representative and their family, first to Disney World, then to Washington D.C. There, the champions are recognized for their continuing medical fight, meet with sponsors, advocate for their hospital, have fun sightseeing, and meeting and networking with other families that are going through similar experiences.

Our trip started Oct. 8th. We woke up bright and early, and as soon as we arrived at the MSP airport, our VIP treatment started by Delta, who was one of the main sponsors of the champions trip. A Delta employee escorted us to the front of the security line, then directly to our plane.

When we landed in Orlando, the girls received an ovation on the plane after the flight attendants announced them. Then, when we got off the plane, a huge crowd of Delta and CMN Hospitals employees were waiting for us at the gate with balloons, cheering our arrival. We were once again escorted through the airport, our baggage was handled, and the VIP treatment continued! This was only the beginning of 10 days of being spoiled.

Our time in Disney World was fantastic. We spent some time at the parks, but the most fun was at the CMN Hospitals planned events. The highlight of the trip for me as a mom, was the medal ceremony, which thousands of people attended, and every champion was acknowledged. The ceremony was hosted by Nick Cannon, who was joined onstage by Miss America, Zendaya, Marie Osmond, and John Schneider. All these kids, most of whom have gone through something life threatening, all got their individual turn to come out onstage, smiling, waving, doing a little dance, and then receiving a medal for going through all they have gone through. Seeing Kaeli push Lily out on the stage was such an emotional moment, remembering all the things both my girls have gone through. Hearing and seeing the standing ovation the girls received, was such a proud moment for me.

Our time in Disney World, also included, media appearances, VIP seating for parades, lunches and dinners with all the families, a mom’s suite sponsored by Chico’s FAS, and a pin exchange with sponsors, where the kids and sponsors get to meet each other one on one .

After our time at Disney, we were taken on a private charter provided again by Delta. Before boarding the plane, we were taken directly onto the tarmac, where we went through security, and met the pilots and flight attendants. A high school band provided music, and of course, there was another cheering reception!

Our time in D.C. was a bit slower paced than originally planned because of the shutdown. We all made the best of it though. We had family come visit us, so some of our canceled events meant more visiting time with them.

We were still able to do some of our scheduled events, including individual and group photos in front of the U.S. Capitol, lunches, a wonderful wreath laying experience at The Tomb of the Unknown in Arlington National Cemetery, and a fancy 3 hour dinner cruise on the Potomac River. This was another big highlight! It was a gorgeous night out on deck of the boat, but inside there was yummy food and a big dance party. This night was one of my favorites from the trip.

Our final day brought the biggest thrill! We were able to go to the White House for a meet and greet and photo with President Obama! We were on the South Lawn which is directly across from the Elipse and the Washington Monument. The President said some very nice things about how much our kids have gone through, and how it puts things in perspective for him when he has a bad day. He then took a few cute questions from the kids about a bowling alley and hot tub in the White House. The visit with the President was pretty quick, because this was the day the shutdown ended and he was needed elsewhere. I think for all families, no matter which side of the aisle they are on, meeting the president on the White House lawn is something none of us will forget!

I can’t thank enough, Gillette, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, and all the sponsors that made this possible! It was so nice to forget all worries with doctor’s, paperwork, phone calls, etc…and just be pampered for a week and a half. We are so grateful for the whole experience and for the opportunity to meet other families who understand and are going through similar medical experiences. The VIP treatment will never be forgotten. My girls have memories that will last a lifetime.

Meet Us Monday - Meet Justin Gillis

Posted On: 11/25/2013

1. What is your position and role at Gillette? Do you have a favorite story or memory? My position at Gillette is a Neurodiagnostic Technologist, and that is preforming neurologic tests such as an EEG.  One of the most fun activities, which has led to many memories, is to go on the Stroll For Epilepsy each year as a team member of Gillette.
2. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? One of my favorite hobbies is to play team sports, such as football and basketball.  Also, I enjoy watching movies, playing the guitar and discovering new trails on walks or while biking.
3. Do you have any children or pets? I have two cats Tootsie and Brie who I inherited through marriage; and I have a new addition to my family, my daughter Haley, who is now three months old.
4. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? If I could travel anywhere in the world I would travel to New Zealand to go hiking, or South Africa to go cage diving with the sharks.
5. What is one fun fact about you? A fun fact about me is I am from Green Bay, WI and I am a Packers fan!!!

TV Coverage Captures Tree Lighting

Posted On: 11/21/2013

On Monday evening, Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare illuminated a tree with 10,000 lights visible for miles in downtown St. Paul. The tree is a symbol of the hope our patients and families have, the expertise of our staff, and the generosity of our donors. The event attracted coverage from local TV stations KARE 11, WCCO and FOX 9. You can also donate and help us light Gillette's tree. 

10,000 Lights of Hope

Posted On: 11/19/2013

Meet Us Monday - Meet Rachel Sievers, R.N.

Posted On: 11/18/2013

1. What is your position and role at Gillette? Do you have a favorite story or memory? I am the inpatient charge nurse on the Neurosciences unit.  I have worked at Gillette on the same unit for 10 years.  My favorite part about working at Gillette is developing a relationship with our patients and families.  I feel so honored to be a part of their lives, and I love to see returning patients and families!  There are some patients and families that I have known since I started working here 10 years ago and still get to see!

2. What are some of your hobbies outside of work?
I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, being outside (only when it’s warm!), going to the cabin, reading and taking pictures.

3. Do you have any children or pets? I have two children; Corey who is 4 and Kennedy who is 1.  They keep me busy, so I don’t have any pets!

4. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? It would be hard to choose just one place to travel to, but I have always wanted to volunteer in an orphanage somewhere.  I haven’t told my husband this yet, because he would say I would want to adopt some of the kids and bring them home!  (Which is probably true).

5. What is one fun fact about you? I have been working with children since I was 12, including babysitting, working as a summer nanny for four summers, working at an after school program in high school, working at a summer camp in Florida, and working at a daycare in college.  I guess I knew early on that I wanted to work with kids for my career.  If I had to do it all over again, I would still be a Pediatric Nurse.

Kid Of The Day - Jaxson’s Story

Posted On: 11/07/2013

My pregnancy was healthy and normal. An ultrasound said we were having a girl! My husband and I were on vacation four hours from home. We spent hours in our boat talking about how we would take our daughter fishing. I was 23 weeks along – just over halfway. But on the last day of vacation, I went into labor. I was airlifted to a hospital with a high-level NICU. And the baby was born. It was not breathing.

Doctors were working frantically. Everyone was crying. And then I heard the most amazing sound – a tiny little cry! The baby was alive! My husband was able to cut the cord. That’s when he noticed that we had a boy instead of the girl we were expecting! Jaxson surprised us by coming 17 weeks early, and he has kept us on our toes ever since.

Jax was the youngest baby in that NICU…ever. Doctors gave him a 4-percent chance of healthy survival. But he proved from day one that he was here to stay. Our little 1-pound, 8-ounce fighter was the “feisty” baby. He was a wiggler and was drugged so he wouldn't pull out his IVs. He extubated himself four times. He had significant trouble with his insulin levels and received six blood transfusions in the first three weeks of life. Jax had aggressive and severe ROP in both eyes, which required Avastin injections and laser eye surgery. He is still monitored closely, but so far his eyes look great!

After 93 days in the NICU, Jax came home. He was released an entire month before his due date! This is unheard of for 23 weekers. His pediatrician calls him “a superhero” every time he sees him.

Jax has done very well, but he still faces some challenges. He’s had four surgeries, with another one scheduled for this fall. He struggles daily with chronic lung disease. We have a million doctor appointments, but the main thing we do is love each other! Jax just turned 14 months old and after months of physical and occupational therapy at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare, our little buddy celebrated by pulling himself up to standing! He is always on the go.

Jax has the amazing power to lift your spirits anytime he’s in the room. His genuine smiles, open-mouthed kisses, and friendly “talks” make every day special. Jax is also independent. He does his own thing and goes his own way. He doesn't fit the mold and defies the odds every single day. Jax is also very adaptable. Jax is the most laid–back kid. He goes with the flow and does it with a smile on his face. Jax had oral aversion problems when we introduced solid food. After only three months of therapy, he will now eat whatever you put in front of him. He faces challenges head on: show him once, and he figures out a way! Jax is a hilarious kid – he makes us laugh everyday with his funny faces and goofy songs. He loves music and always moves to the beat. Some of his favorite things are going for walks in his stroller, reading books, playing with his cousins, and meeting new people. He’s so friendly – he has a smile for everyone he meets. You’d never know by his happy personality that he spent three months in the hospital fighting for his life!

Give To The Max Day

Posted On: 11/07/2013

Thursday, November 14 is Give to the Max Day, a 24-hour online fundraising event hosted by Thanks to a generous donor, every donation made to Gillette on Give to the Max Day will be matched – up to $10,000! Help us spread the word so we can maximize this matching gift to its highest amount. 

Make a donation of $50 or more and we’ll display your name on our virtual tree of hope.  The tree is a symbol from our new Moving Forward campaign, like the one in our TV spot featuring Ellie, a Gillette patient.  We’ll send you a link to view your name on our tree the day after Give to the Max Day.

You can go to our GiveMN page now and pledge to make a gift. Your credit card won’t be charged until November 14 so that your donation can be matched. Just click on the “Make My Donation Count for Give to the Max Day” at the bottom of the form before clicking “donate now.”

Let others know that you support Gillette on Give to the Max Day by changing your Facebook profile or cover picture to one provided here.  Simply click the image, save it on your computer, and upload it onto your Facebook page.







Whether you donate, tweet or post, your support will help make this year’s Give to the Max Day a successful one.

Meet Us Monday - Meet Abdulkadir Muse

Posted On: 11/04/2013

1. What is your position and role at Gillette? I am a Sleep Technician and Respiratory Therapist

2. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? Some of my hobbies outside of work include playing basketball and taking my kids to the park.

3. Do you have any children or pets? I have five adorable kids!

4. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I would love to travel to Istanbul, Turkey.

5. What is one fun fact about you? I come from a family of ten siblings! Since I was in the middle, I developed a unique way of dealing with family issues. At times it may not be fun, but trust me it is fun being me!

Celebrating Those Who Have Spina Bifida

Posted On: 10/30/2013

Many people associate October with autumn, pumpkins, changing leaves, and Halloween. But here at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, when October rolls around, something else also comes to mind: National Spina Bifida Awareness Month. During this time, it’s an opportunity to learn about Spina Bifida and celebrate those living with this condition.

Spina bifida occurs in the first month of pregnancy, when the embryo’s spinal cord doesn’t develop properly. In mild cases, a child might not experience symptoms. In more severe cases, a baby might be born with part of the spinal cord outside the body, causing physical effects that can last a lifetime.

At Gillette, we provide services that directly help with the effects caused by spina bifida. Some of those include assistive technology, rehabilitation therapies, and therapeutic recreation. Because the condition lasts a lifetime, Gillette Lifetime Specialty Healthcare enables people who have spina bifida to receive care after age 18.

Recently, we’ve expanded our ability to care for people who have spina bifida by starting a Spina Bifida Clinic in Minnetonka, Minn. On the third Tuesday of each month at Gillette’s Minnetonka Clinic, patients can see specialty doctors in one location all on the same day. Specialists in neurosurgery, pediatric rehabilitation medicine, orthopedics and urology see patients there.

So this October, while you’re raking leaves, carving a pumpkin, or filling up your candy bucket, take a second to think of people who are living with spina bifida. Join us at Gillette in celebrating the accomplishments and successes throughout their lifetimes!


November Film Festival Highlights People Who Have Disabilities

Posted On: 10/30/2013

It's movie time at the St. Anthony Main theaters in Minneapolis!  Nov. 1 - 5, the theaters will showcase a series of movies focusing on people who have disabilities. 

For example, in Wampler's Ascent, Steve Wampler climbs El Capitan in Yosemite National Park a few inches at a time. Because he has cerebral palsy, he has to perform 20,000 pull-ups to complete the ascent! The film, which runs a little more than an hour, shows on Friday and Sunday evenings. Wampler will speak at both screenings.

Because Gillette is sponsoring the Sunday screening, Gillette families are eligible for a discounted ticket price of $7 on Sunday night. Just mention Gillette when you purchase your tickets. The  festival promotes awareness of the lives and artistic efforts of people who have disabilities. Click here for a schedule and to learn more. Some of the events include discussion sessions afterward.  

Note: St. Anthony Main has an attached parking ramp for easy access!

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