* Click here to view a short video of the reception honoring these winners.
Children’s Heartlink has a clear mission—to “build sustainable programs to prevent, treat and cure heart disease among children in developing countries by mobilizing extraordinary hearts, minds and resources around the world.” But they can’t do that without help—without the dedicated hearts of volunteers.
And that’s where Franck Gougeon comes in. He’s based his career and company on fighting congenital heart disease across the world, so when he learned about Children’s Heartlink, it was a perfect partnership.
Franck is director and co-founder of AGA Medical, and serves on its board of directors and as chairman of its Corporate Development Committee. For the past three years now he’s been actively involved in Children’s Heartlink, on its board of directors, and this year, is chair of fund-raising for the annual Heartlink Gala coming this fall, already providing innumerable value by recruiting other local corporations, organizations, and philanthropists to participate. Children’s Heartlink couldn’t be more thankful for his efforts.
“Franck donates an extraordinary amount of time and energy to the event each year, making him an integral part of its continued success,” says Katie Heinemann.
For Franck, his work and dedication is well worth it, especially because Children’s Heartlink is establishing sustainable programs that have the ability to keep on diagnosing and treating children after they’ve left.
“The treatment that the medical teams provide is often a cure and a life-changing opportunity. This is very different from many other diseases such as cancer, where a treatment is not a cure. We fix them and they can live a perfectly healthy and normal life in most cases—and that is amazing.” â¤
John W. Kelly, Sr. and Paula Kelly
Arc Greater Twin Cities
So much comes down to timing, and for John and Paula Kelly of Eagan, Minn., 2009 was their year to shine—to finally give back to the organization that helped them.
The Kelly’s son John Jr. (Jack) is developmentally delayed and autistic. Now 19, Jack and his family have received many years of advocacy services at the hands of Arc Greater Twin Cities and were poised to share their time, talent and treasures to say thank you.
Arc’s mission is to “secure for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families the opportunity to realize their goals of where and how they live, learn, work and play.” The Kellys wanted to support this goal and encourage acceptance and assistance for the disabled.
To do so, they chose a hands-on approach and put tremendous time and energy into the Arcademy Galas for the Arc Greater Twin Cities. As event co-chairs for the 2009 event, they raised more than $221,000 in net revenue and built connections with new supporters not previously familiar with Arc. Paula oversaw a hugely successful silent auction, while John focused on actively recruiting sponsorships.
“I feel like my efforts are allowing everyone who has a child or sibling like our son to access the many services they need through the help of Arc,” says John.
Though stepping down from the co-chair role in 2010, they continued to be greatly involved (Paula as auction co-chair and John as sponsorships chair—and also board member and chair of the leadership phase of the Arc’s capital campaign) and increase gala revenue and participation from their 2009 success.
“Overall, the 2010 Gala was up 14 percent over 2009—a truly amazing feat in a depressed economy,” shares Arc’s Pam Carlson. “The Kellys have a strong commitment to Arc because it has helped them with challenges in their lives, and they give back many times over. They truly were the ‘heart’ of both the 2009 and 2010 Arcademy Galas. The 2010 Gala was just the third one, and drew 555 people, making it one of the largest galas in the Twin Cities. It’s because of the Kellys!”
Arc is a true family affair—one they’re happy to have made the time for. “I think people will find that once they give the first few hours, it will become easier and eventually they will become ‘addicted’ to the good feeling that comes with helping others,” Paula says.
The Kellys prove that; if you’re motivated, you can find the time to help. â¤
Children’s Cancer Research Fund
A mother’s love can move mountains—or in this case, over 200 people and numerous volunteers every year for a 10K walk in Pepin, Wis. called Emma’s Hope.
Angie and her husband Shaughn live in Pepin with their two daughters, Allie and Emma. Their lives changed dramatically back in 1999 when a routine doctor’s visit returned the devastating news of a rare form of cancer, called Neuroblastoma, for their youngest, Emma, then two-and-a-half years old.
A language arts teacher at Plum City Middle School, Angie was looking to do more—anything to help raise awareness and funds to fight the disease ailing her daughter and other families’ children. That’s what started Emma’s Hope. So thankful for the care and support they received from the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital and Children’s Cancer Research Fund, Angie and her family wanted to give back.
Coming up on its ten-year anniversary now, the event has earned more than $100,000 for Children’s Cancer Research Fund. Angie and her husband organize every detail for the annual walk, from coordinating volunteers, participants, and donations, and creating brochures and mailings, down to event logistics like blocking off roadways for the walkers. Angie also acts as event emcee and silent auction coordinator.
“For Angie, it’s much more than a charity walk,” says Kelly Schultz of Children’s Cancer Research Fund. “Rain or shine, it will be a day full of love, laughter, and hope. And, when it’s all done, we will all be one step closer to finding a cure for childhood cancer.”
And that’s Angie’s ultimate goal. When it comes to her one true wish, Angie says it’s an easy one to answer: “My daily prayer is that very, very soon, no more children will go to heaven early because of childhood cancer.” â¤
March of Dimes
Though married, with a daughter and grandchildren, Glenn’s reach has been far wider than his family circle for a long time now. He’s the senior vice president of government programs at Medica.
This unique position is what first endeared Glenn to the March of Dimes. He was looking at the health care system and what Minnesota could do about low income and immigrant populations, specifically in relation to premature birth rates, low-weight babies and infant mortality. Hooked by the personal stories of other volunteers and their ‘micro preemies,’ Glenn found what he was looking for: “March of Dimes provided leadership and support for this task force. I decided this was a perfect fit with the work I do at Medica with public programs and [it had] a focus on preventing premature births.”
Glenn has been a March of Dimes chapter board member and the Executive Sponsor for ten years now, and was a key contributor to their latest record-breaking 1 million-dollar-year.
“Glenn motivated the entire Medica system to get behind the March of Dimes premier fund-raising event the March for Babies,” says MOD’s Danielle Prenevost. “Glenn’s passion for our mission to improve the health of babies inspired him to recruit his co-workers and his boss, David Tilford, CEO of Medica, to support the March of Dimes with fervor. His leadership skills made him a champion for the health of babies by recruiting an amazing amount of walkers and challenging other companies to donate and walk.”
Not only did Medica triple its fundraising this year, but through hosting breakfasts, public speaking, and making good old-fashioned phone calls, Glenn has been a true ambassador for March of Dimes, raising awareness and doing his part to make sure every baby is born healthy.
All this happened while being a husband, father, grandfather, and businessman. But Glenn recognizes that focusing on an even greater good is worth it: “Finding time to volunteer can be a real challenge, but I think it is a matter of prioritization. People can always find time to share their talents to help other people (including babies) have a better quality of life.” â¤
America Heart Association
Tami’s life has been all about choices. She chose to get a Bachelor of Arts degree in dance at the University of Minnesota, and to use that degree to become a Minnesota Vikings Cheerleader, eventually leading the team for over a decade now as head coach and coordinator. She chose to marry her husband Aaron, and raise three beautiful sons while still working. But she did not choose for her husband to be diagnosed with a genetic heart condition in 2004.
So Tami decided to take back control. She wanted to educate herself so that she could incorporate heart-healthy choices into her family’s everyday life, increasing the odds for her sons. Tami’s passion soon spread.
“Tami took it even further and made educating the public about heart health a personal crusade,” says the American Heart Association’s Elizabeth Warmka. “As the cheerleading coach for the Minnesota Vikings and Swarm, Tami used her position to inform the community during games about the importance of heart health.”
Tami has become one of the Association’s leading media spokeswomen. She’s incorporated heart-healthy curriculum into her coaching and encouraged her teams to volunteer for the Go Red for Women movement; she’s been actively involved in the AHA’s volunteer Speaker’s Bureau the past six years, and even choose “Go Red” as her winning platform for her reign as Mrs. Minnesota International 2009. She was the first chair of the new Go Red Volunteer Ambassadors Committee in 2010 and led this group of more than 30 volunteers to make February one of the most successful Go Red seasons ever in the Twin Cities. She also hosted the first-ever Go Red “Hearts for Fashion” show at the Mall of America. For this—and more—she was awarded the Twin Cities Go Red For Women Volunteer of the Year award for 2009.
“Though she is busy as a wife and mother,” Warmka says, “Tami doesn’t have to be asked to volunteer, she simply lives it in everything she does every day in her life.”
Tami loves that she can make a truly life-saving impact on people’s lives by teaching them about warning signs and statistics that may affect them, and works to inspire people to make simple changes in their daily choices. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of men and women, but contrary to other diseases, Tami wants to communicate that in many cases, it’s preventable through a healthy lifestyle. It’s all about choices, she says.
“It is up to us to take charge of our health so that we can live life to our fullest potential!” â¤