Inside Gillette Blog

Son’s Newfound Love of Food Means Special Thanksgiving for Twin Cities Family

Posted On: 11/20/2012

Like most 19-month-olds, Owen Marinkovich is eager to explore anything and everything with his mouth.  But unlike his peers, until recently, Owen showed little interest in swallowing food, the result of a lifetime of negative experiences with feeding tubes, vents and other medical equipment in his mouth. A micro preemie born at just 24 weeks gestation, Owen has already overcome a multitude of obstacles, showing courage befitting of his name’s meaning, “young warrior.”  But as he continued to experience difficulties with food, his mom, Tatum, sought help from Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare’s Feeding Clinic.

In occupational therapy, Owen works with toys, like this one, that reward him for biting down.

An initial evaluation determined Owen was able to eat – a critical first step. However, like many kids with complex medical histories, eating no longer came naturally to him.  Negative experiences had also impressed upon Owen the need for control – although he’d put anything in his mouth, no one else, including his mom, could do so.  Through weekly therapy sessions reinforced with at-home practice, Tatum and occupational therapist Leah Hall began the step-by-step process of helping Owen see food as fun, pleasant – and, importantly, safe.

Knowing Owen loved using his mouth to explore, Leah suggested he practice with high-flavor foods like gummy worms, suckers, beef jerky and chips—items that would help him experience flavors in a non-threatening way, without the expectation of chewing or swallowing. She then encouraged him to try “meltable” foods, like cheese puffs, which would dissolve quickly in his mouth without much need for chewing.   Leah also taught Tatum to dip Owen’s favorite pacifiers and toys in baby food, helping him to discover new textures on objects he already enjoyed.

Owen samples dried pineapple.

As weeks progressed, so did Owen—first mouthing spoons of baby food himself, then allowing mom to feed him. Recently, using the sign language symbol for “eat,” Owen requested food for the first time. “It made my week!” recalls Tatum of the milestone.

In just 2 months of therapy at Gillette’s Feeding Clinic, Owen has gone from being fed exclusively via g-tube to eating several containers of baby food each day.  He’s exploring different textures—including crunchy and puffy foods—and discovering new flavors.  All of this comes just in time for Owen to participate in Thanksgiving for the first time ever. For a family that’s been apart on far too many holidays due to Owen’s hospitalizations, it’s especially meaningful.

Owen discovers the joys of food.

“On previous holidays Owen has either needed to stay back from family celebrations, or he wasn’t strong enough to sit at the table, or he wasn’t eating,” recalls Tatum.  “This Thanksgiving, he’ll be able to sample things like mashed and sweet potatoes, and physically be present as we enjoy the meal. What an amazing thing, as his mom, to begin to think of holidays as a family activity. It really is something to be thankful for.”

Tatum likens Leah to a coach helping to guide her in playing Owen’s “game” of discovering foods.  “Owen and I have to practice, and ultimately play the game, but it’s a lot easier with someone who can coach us minute by minute, even second by second,” she says.

Duluth CurePity Day

Posted On: 11/12/2012

On Monday, November 5, the Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare’s Duluth Clinic held a celebration to mark its 13th anniversary of offering specialty services to northern Minnesota children and families. To help raise awareness about the Gillette Duluth Clinic and to champion Gillette’s CurePity movement, the celebration included a media tour of Duluth print, TV and radio outlets, as well as the Great Lakes Aquarium. Duluth’s Mayor Don Ness proclaimed November 5, 2012 as “CurePity Day” in Duluth.

The public and media were invited to the Gillette Duluth Clinic’s event program that highlighted the clinic’s history and specialty services, a patient family sharing their experiences of services provided at the Gillette Duluth Clinic, an overview of the CurePity movement and a plaque presentation by the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors. After the program, guests enjoyed light refreshments and were invited to sign the CurePity Pledge.






Save the Date!  KS95 for Kids Returns December 6-7

Posted On: 11/04/2012

We’re excited to welcome back the KS95 for Kids Radiothon to the airways on Thursday, December 6 and Friday, December 7!  Our 14th annual radiothon will broadcast live on 94.5 FM (and from Mall of America) with KS95′s Ryan and Shannon sharing incredible stories of local children who are triumphing over complex disabilities or childhood cancer.

Your Spare Change Means Big Hope for Kids!

Looking for a fun and easy way to make a difference in the lives of local children? Sign up for KS95′s Change for Kids program today!  Collect change as a family, sports team, activity group, even at your workplace. Then bring your collected change to Mall of America during the KS95 for Kids Radiothon live broadcast, December 6 and 7. When you drop off change, we’ll also be handing out Nickelodeon Universe “Mystery Passes” which could get you one ride, multiple rides or unlimited rides at the park!

Want to get the latest KS95 for Kids news and updates? “Like” KS95 for Kids on Facebook. On Twitter? Follow us @KS95forKids.