March of Dimes Newsletter Insert

Helping Babies Survive Against All Odds

By Julie Severson

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Chloe, who loves to dance and giggle, is a miracle baby, surviving when all odds were against her.

Her parents, Linda and Charlie Johnson, tried for 16 years to get pregnant after Linda had a miscarriage. They considered adoption until suddenly, at the age of 40, Linda found out she was pregnant. Her excitement was mixed with fear of losing this baby, too, but prenatal tests showed that all was well.

Five days past her due date, however, Linda woke up and knew something was terribly wrong. She couldn’t feel the baby moving anymore. An emergency C-section was performed, and unknown to everyone involved, the placenta that provides nourishment of the fetus had stopped working about a month before Linda’s due date. The fetus had been starving to death.

Newly born Chloe was immediately airlifted from St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Brainerd to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis, having a seizure on the way. Linda and Charlie followed by ambulance.

“My baby was hooked up to every machine possible in critical condition. She looked caved in,” Linda said. “Doctors said that if she had been born even one hour later, she would not have survived.”

Thanks to a dedicated medical staff and modern technology, the Johnsons walked out of the hospital ten days later with their miracle baby and the assurance that Chloe should be able to live a completely healthy life without any developmental problems.

Now as an ambassador family for March of Dimes, the Johnsons walk in the Pequot Lakes Walk America each year. And Chloe, who started walking when she was 11 months and 10 days old, walked in the March of Dimes Wonder walk for kids on May 29. The family will make an appearance at the upcoming Star Chef’s event in Brainerd to be held on Thursday, Nov. 7 at Madden’s Resort.

“I thank God for my daughter every single night. She wouldn’t be here had it not been for the March of Dimes and the incredible staff at the Children’s Hospital,” Linda said.

And to all the volunteers helping to organize the upcoming Star Chef’s Auction, Linda said: “You’re fantastic. You’re helping the March of Dimes earn money to save tiny little babies. You’re as much of heroes as firefighters and police officers.”

Names of Ambassador family have been changed in reprint to protect their privacy.

Local Chefs Help Raise Thousands for March of Dimes

On Thursday, Nov. 7, chefs from favorite local restaurants and a sell-out crowd will once again come together to help the March of Dimes in their mission to prevent infant mortality and birth defects at Brainerd’s Annual March of Dimes Star Chef’s Auction at Madden’s Resort on Gulf Lake.

The evening kicks off at 6 p.m. and features a live and silent auction and more than 20 food and beverage sampling stations. Dressed in everything from tuxedos and sequin dresses to plaid shirts and jeans, 400-500 people are expected to attend this year’s event, which last year raised $35,000 for March of Dimes research and education efforts.

Items up for bid include a hand-crafted log bed, a black lab puppy, tickets to the Minnesota Wild and limo ride, a private wine-tasting party, a $500 shopping spree at Schaefer’s, 18 holes of golf for four, a day at the spa, framed prints from local artists, a kid’s birthday party and much more.

One of the exciting traditions is the diamond raffle during which bags of ice will be sold for $25 each. Inside one of those bags—a half-karat diamond.

“It’s fun to watch people go back and forth to their tables as the bags of ice melt to see if they bought the bag with the diamond in it,” said Penny Nelsen, co-chair of the event. “The big surprise of the evening last year was when the woman who discovered she had the diamond was then proposed to by her boyfriend.”

Nelsen, an advertising representative for Lake Country Journal, along with Ellen Frank, owner of Morey’s Market and Grille, have co-chaired the event since the beginning. And together, they’ve assembled a powerful committee.

“We’re all full-time workers, busy in the community with lots of friends and contacts,” Nelsen said.

While some guests are mingling, bidding and trying to win a diamond, others are busy sampling all of the bite-sized culinary delights and local wines. From imaginative presentations of smoked salmon and crab cakes to chocolate truffles, bread pudding and custard, there seems to be a mouth-watering treat at every turn as guests roam the resort’s two-tiered Town Hall building decked in harvest wreaths, candles and white lights.

Even the chefs get in on the sampling to check out their friendly competition.

“Since we bring helpers with us, we usually get a chance to do some tasting, too, said Joe Hallbeck, who has donated his time and talent to the event for the past five years as owner and head chef of Sibley Station in Pequot Lakes. “We all know each other in business—the event is a real camaraderie type of thing. Since there are no awards, there’s no pressure to compete.”

“I love to go sample the Prime Rib served by Howard from Black Bear Lodge and Saloon,” Hallbeck said. “And Morey’s Market and Grille always has very interesting items, Tom from Kavanaugh’s is usually experimenting with new soup or sautéing crab cakes on-the-spot, and last year Madden’s had an amazing presentation of canapés (elegant open-faced sandwiches.

When asked how he goes about deciding what food items to serve, Hallbeck said, for him, it’s a careful blend of tradition and surprise.

“As chefs we like to use the opportunity to try something new, but at the same time, many people come to the event expecting the dishes we’re best known for,” Hallbeck said.

“One year, we decided not to serve our Hungarian mushroom soup, and we must have had about 300 people come up to us and express their disappointment. So this year, we’ll most likely serve a couple of our signature items as well as a surprise dish.”

Alan Judalla, part-owner of Iven’s on the Bay restaurant, said his staff likes to use the opportunity to experiment with new flavor combinations. “We select items that are easy to assemble and can be served in bite-size pieces in which the flavors balance one another and will expand people’s horizons.”

Often times, the chefs plan for the evening while still having to carry out their normal daily restaurant duties, requiring them to find extra space and time to prep the food. And restaurant owners are then short a chef and other staff members during the evening’s business hours. But most agree that it’s well worth the effort.

“It’s hard to place more importance on anything than that of the health and welfare of little kids,” Hallbeck said, who admits that participating in the Star Chef’s event also is good publicity. “Your customers see you there and know you care.”

This increasingly popular fundraiser is a take-off from the Taste America component of the March of Dimes Walk America event, according to Sue Parent, March of Dimes Division Director of Central Minnesota. It has caught on quickly and is now held throughout the United States including seven Minnesota locations: Alexandria, Brainerd, Duluth, Mankato, Minneapolis, Rochester and St. Cloud. Last year, Star Chef’s Auctions were held in more than 200 cities across the country, raising more than $7.1 million for the March of Dimes.

Proceeds from all the events go to promote healthy outcomes of pregnancy through research, education, and community intervention and advocacy programs.

Specific examples include: a recent public service campaign to promote the importance of folic acid to women of childbearing age, a public service campaign to educate how and why premature births happen, on-going training and online courses for health service providers, continued funding for neo-natal intensive care units, a “Babies & You” video series provided to companies and prenatal education programs for teens.

Ticket and Sponsorship Information

Individual tickets are $35. Corporate tables and sponsorship opportunities are also available:

▪ Silver sponsorships are sold for $400, which gets you a table for 10, a bottle of wine and acknowledgment at the event.

▪ Gold sponsorships are $1,000, which gets you a table for 10, a bottle of wine, and acknowledgment in the program, invites and other publicity materials.