Inside Gillette Blog

Building a Community of Givers

Posted On: 02/13/2015

Last November, at Frattallone’s Ace Hardware in Arden Hills, Minnesota, something special happened. A customer walked in and asked if he could write a check to Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. The man knew that Ace supported Gillette because he’d gotten an email from the store’s co-owner, Mike Frattallone (pictured left).

Frattallone had penned an email to his entire address book of customers, urging them to give to Gillette on Give to the Max Day. He let them know that he’d match each donation, dollar for dollar. Frattallone’s Ace Hardware has a long history of supporting Gillette through its Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals partnership.

Frattallone has a personal reason for raising money for Gillette. His daughter had been evaluated at Gillette because of a foot curvature. The experience of being an anxious father—and the memory of the excellent care Gillette provided—has stayed with him.

“We have almost 700 employees,” says Frattallone. “Many of them have shared personal stories about nephews and nieces and family members who are patients at Gillette. You don’t have to go far to find someone who has been touched by this hospital.”

When you ask people to give, Frattallone believes, the stories that you get back are inspiring.

Like the story of the Ace employees who volunteered to give Gillette a day of hourly wages so they could demonstrate for customers that they, too, were committed to giving.

Or the story of the customer who, when he found out that the store’s fundraising goal for the day was $100, wrote a check to Gillette for $100 right there at the register. “All of a sudden, we had a new goal for the day—$200—and a new story to tell our other customers when it came time to ask for their donations,” Frattalone says.

He isn’t surprised by the generosity. “People come to Ace Hardware because of the customer service and expertise,” he says. “They like the engagement. They welcome community involvement, and they’re incredibly giving.”

Michael Ruud to Represent Gillette, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals as Champion

Posted On: 06/18/2014

Last week brought a whirlwind of activity for 9-year-old Michael Ruud and his parents, Mike and Paty.  The Duluth, Minn. family spent the beginning of the week at Gillette’s St. Paul clinic for check-ups with his team of physicians.  During their stay in the Twin Cities, they also greeted supporters of Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare — from employees of local Sam’s Club stores to Miss Minnesota contestants — who raise funds for the hospital through its affiliation with Children’s Miracle Network. 

The week continued with more fun on Thursday, when a crowd of more than 60 people gathered at the Residence Inn Marriott in Duluth to mark the official start of Michael’s role as our Children’s Miracle Network Champion.  He’ll represent Gillette, and the state of Minnesota, by sharing his story with Children’s Miracle Network fundraising partners throughout the year.  Then, this fall, Michael and Champions representing our other U.S. states will travel to Walt Disney World and Washington, D.C. to raise awareness of the important work being done by Children’s Miracle Network hospitals nationwide.

Individuals who joined in Thursday’s celebration included Duluth Mayor Don Ness (pictured with Michael) and representatives from Marriott International and Delta Air Lines, both sponsors of the 2014 Children’s Miracle Network Champions program (third sponsor Chico’s FAS was not present), and representatives from other Duluth-area Children’s Miracle Network partners, including Dairy Queen, Walmart, ACE Hardware and Credit Unions for Kids. Michael’s teachers, classmates, therapists, grandparents, family friends and Gillette’s Duluth Clinic staff came out to show their support, as well.  The celebration got a big ‘thumbs up’ from Michael (pictured with Delta Air Lines pilot Darrel Baker and Marriott general manager Erin Maruska).

Stay tuned in the coming weeks and months for more on Michael’s experiences as the Gillette and Minnesota Champion child — including a special video telling the story of his family’s journey through his treatment at Gillette for a complex condition called Apert syndrome.

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.

A Presidential Welcome to Washington, D.C.

Posted On: 06/23/2010

Lately you’ve heard a lot about Bella, who is representing Gillette and Minnesota as part of the Children’s Miracle Network Champions program. So you probably know that Bella and her family just recently returned from a trip to Washington, D.C. with Champion kids from our 49 other states. We’ve got one final update to share — and it’s a pretty exciting one!

As you can see, Bella met President Obama and even shook his hand. She also got the once-in-a-lifetime chance to ask the President a very important question. Where was his dog, Bo?

A Night of Minn-spiration

Posted On: 06/22/2010

Our Miss Minnesota 2009, Brooke Kilgarriff, gracefully turned over her crown last Saturday to her newly-crowned successor, Kathryn Knuttila, at the annual Miss Minnesota pageant. As part of the pageant, Gillette patient Bella Giraldo and her family shared their story on stage — with the audience giving them a resounding standing ovation!  Bella is this year’s Children’s Miracle Network Champion child, representing Gillette and Minnesota.

Wondering what Miss Minnesota and Gillette have in common? More than you think! Each year, Miss Minnesota contestants raise money for Gillette, Minnesota’s Children’s Miracle Network hospital.

Kathryn Knuttila is crowned Miss Minnesota 2010! (photo credit: Paula Preston)

Bella takes the stage with Brooke, our now-former Miss Minnesota. (photo credit: Paula Preston)

In the year ahead, Kathryn will be working to raise funds and awareness for Gillette.  In fact, she already started during her campaign as a Miss Minnesota contestant. In April she hosted a musical event, A Night of Inspiration, that featured a variety of musical acts.  As part of the evening’s performances, Kathryn — a music composition student from McNally Smith College of Music — serenaded the audience with an outstanding piano performance.  The event was free, with all donations going to Gillette.

The Miss Minnesota pageant also recognized Miss Northwest, Lexy Okeson, (pictured below) with the Miracle Maker Award for raising over $2,000 for Children’s Miracle Network.

A big, heartfelt thank you to all of our Miss Minnesota contestants. Congratulations on your success!

Hello from Washington, D.C.!

Posted On: 06/08/2010

It’s day 3 of Gillette patient Bella’s weeklong trip to Washington, D.C. as part of the Children’s Miracle Network Champions program.  She, and kids representing our 49 other states, are having the time of their lives — and keeping busy! They’ve already visited the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials, the Washington Monument, and some of our nation’s most famous museums. Bella and her family even got to meet Minnesota senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken at the Capitol building.

The trip is all part of an important mission: to raise awareness, among government officials, of the exceptional care provided by Children’s Miracle Network hospitals, like Gillette, throughout the U.S.

Here is Bella outside the Lincoln Memorial:

And with her sister, Grace, at the Washington Monument:

So what’s next for Bella and her fellow Champion kids? Taking in a Nationals baseball game, and today, meeting the President of the United States!  Stay tuned for more photos from D.C.