Check out some of the history of the foundation by reading some of our previous blog posts. You can also stop here for our annual recaps and any information about upcoming events
2020 Yearly Recap
December 31, 2020
2020, right? It has been quite the year. Most of you like us are probably looking forward to the New Year. We realize not everything will resolve at the stroke of midnight. The troubles of 2020 or any year do not magically dissolve because a new year arrives, but often we find a way to hope and imagine new things for ourselves. In this year, we all are collectively hoping and dreaming for many of the same things - health, unity, and stability. We imagine for some of you the year has been even more difficult because of the loss of a job, furlough, isolation, illness or loss. For the Charlie Girl family that has also been true. We lost one of our board members, Kelly’s brother Tim. He was an integral part of founding this foundation, and we would be remiss in recapping the year without mentioning it. He was diagnosed at the end of February with stage 4 rectal cancer. Shortly after, he was placed in hospice and his family was able to all move in and quarantine together to care for him. He passed away on May 7th. It’s been a heart wrenching year without him. His family, faith and his friends carried him through this year. We were so reminded of what support can provide for someone in extreme circumstances. Tim had an incredible support system, friends and family from all over the country that reached out. What a blessing. What we learned during Charlie’s short life and Tim’s short battle with cancer is how invaluable the gift of support is. Our mission is to be that for the families we support, and we are forever grateful that you, as our supporters, continue to make it possible to do this work. Thank you!
We were able to sponsor two families this year. The Zimmermann’s with son Grayson and the Wildman’s with daughters Shae and Averi were our heart warriors for 2020. Grayson was in the hospital when we started sponsoring him and was for almost the entire year. Thankfully he is now home with his family where he belongs, and we hope remains there healthy and strong. Shae and Averi have had follow up appointments throughout the year but remain home with their family. Shae has had some heartbreaking difficulties this year with anxiety and PTSD from all of the medical traumas she has been through. Another reminder that families need support not just during a hospital or monetarily but continued support for the emotional challenges they will also face.
Typically our spring and summer at the foundation is filled with sending out requests to businesses for silent auction donations or partnerships and preparing for our fall benefit. Due to the pandemic, we canceled the benefit early this spring knowing businesses could not afford to be donating supplies and the likelihood for an in person event was slim. We were able to postpone our reservation for the benefit with the Machine Shop to September 17, 2021. We are hopeful that by September we can be together again.
Our #healingheartsfromhome campaign was wildly successful. As we were trying to determine how we could continue to raise money this year for the foundation, we were uncertain how an online campaign would go especially given that this year has been financially hard on so many people. Yet, you all came through and were incredibly generous. Our goal was to raise enough funds to support two families again in 2021. Our typical year includes supporting two families and supporting two area hospitals in their research to help eradicate congenital heart defects. We determined if we could only do one thing in 2021, we wanted to make sure it was to support the families. With a goal of $12,000 we were a little apprehensive to hope that we would reach it. An online giving campaign was new to us, but you all blew us away with your giving. We reached $12,000 on the last day and continued to bring in donations until we reached $15,993.00. Incredible! Thank you doesn’t seem adequate. We found this to be such a blessing and truly a bright spot in this year.
With your giving we are certain we can sponsor two families in 2021 and have started to receive applications for sponsorship. We are carefully considering each one and will share with you early in 2021 who the new families will be.
As always your generosity and support has made this possible; we are so thankful! We hope that this year comes to a close with hope in your hearts for a new and brighter tomorrow.
Much love from the Charlie Girl Foundation:
January 6, 2020
I wanted to take a minute to review our third year for the Charlie Girl Foundation. 2019 was been filled with making connections and with growing awareness of our small non-profit. We had some wonderful meetings early in the year with the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital as well as with Hope Academy. Both meetings were a chance for us to envision how we could grow Charlie Girl Foundation into a much larger non-profit, meeting the needs of more children affected by heart defects. We gleaned knowledge from Hope Academy a non-profit that is very successful at what they do, and it provided us some inspiration to envision our future as a non-profit. Meeting with Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital also provided us with new relationships within the field of pediatric heart research. We were able to meet a few of the doctors at the hospital that provide care to the children we hope to support and who are researching ways to help these children. Our relationship led us to Dr. Matt Ambrose who was one of our speakers this year at the Charlie Girl Benefit. He was able to share specific tactics the hospital is working on for pediatric heart defects.
We also were able to have one of our sponsored families come to the benefit and share the story of her son John’s heart journey! Her social worker, Rachel from Children’s Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota, was also able to share and attend. It’s been wonderful to partner with both hospitals and to share the ways your money is supporting the community and the children who need it most.
Our board has been working throughout the year to make the benefit a success and to find new and innovative ways to generate more financial support to further our mission. We had a Go-Fund-Me campaign this year to make a video of our mission and the work we do, and we will be working on filming and sharing the video in 2020. We also have grown our giving campaigns through Amazon Smile and Facebook fundraisers, where each small purchase or donation directly impacts the ability we have to help more kiddos.
In addition to raising funds and throwing a fabulous benefit we have found ways as a foundation to also volunteer and give back. This year we were able to host a breakfast at the University of Minnesota Masonic’s Children’s Hospital for patients and their families. They could come to the lobby grab a few treats and enter a raffle for prizes. It was a nice way to interact with the families that need it most. We also held a fundraising event at Kelly’s home where we made ornaments for children in the hospital, wrote encouraging notes for the holiday season and collected much needed items for the Ronald McDonald House pantry. Elliott (Kelly and Ryan’s 4th grader) requested to invite her class to participate, and they jumped right in donating a box of items for the RMH. We have seen such generosity throughout the year and it brings such a light to the families whose children are facing life changing illnesses. We appreciate all the support and love we receive and look forward to your continued support and participation in the Charlie Girl events in 2020.
Our two 2019 sponsored families were just sent their final checks and gifts for the year, and it is bittersweet to end this year long journey. We were introduced to Karsyn and John last December through applications sent by their social workers. We selected them at the first of this year and each month were able to send notes and checks to support whatever needs their families had in providing the care they needed. Unfortunately, Karsyn passed away in March of this year and we continue to grieve the loss of such a sweet boy. His family has continued to be supported by the foundation for the duration of the year and we hope, continue to know we support them ongoing with our love and prayers. Baby John turned 1 this November and continues to do well at home with his mom Nay and his Auntie Essofana. As we look over applications for two new families for 2020 please know your support will continue to be needed as we bless the new children that need it in the new year.
Kelly McManimon, President and Founder of the Charlie Girl Foundation
December 27, 2018
In January 2018 we chose two sweet families to sponsor this year - the Vikre’s and the Hillestad’s. Both families had little boys born with heart defects and both sweet boys, Vidar and Clark, had older brothers. We were able to provide $500.00 per month to each family throughout the year and just last week we were able to send them Christmas packages.
Next week, we will be providing $3,000.00 to both area hospitals: the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital and Childrens’ Heart Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota to continue the research to help eradicate congenital heart defects and find effective treatments for the children affected by them.
Our second annual benefit was held on September 20th at The Historic John P Furber Farm. We anticipated the second year would be easier since we had done this once before, but it was still a long labor of love by the Charlie Girl Board. Thankfully you all came out to support this amazing cause. We had nearly 200 people attend. The night included a silent auction with over 100 items, including trips to Ireland and Sonoma! We had a wine raffle, played the heads and tails game and were able to enjoy live music by Charlie Parr while eating amazing desserts. The night was filled with generous individuals dedicated to not only carrying on Charlie’s legacy but ensuring little ones like her would have better outcomes and more care by the community that surrounds them. The evening brought in $26,910.00 in total.
Throughout the year we continue to be amazed by the little and large donations that regularly come in. We have also received $3,315.00 in donations. The auction along with the yearly donations have allowed us again to choose two families to sponsor in 2019. We have a few applications in hand already and are waiting for a few more to come in before making our selection for next years families.
This year we added Laura Brown to the Charlie Girl Board which brings us to 8 members. Laura is a friend of Kelly’s that she met at camp in high school. They both attended Northwestern College (now the University of Northwestern St. Paul) and were roommates there. Laura is a printmaker and an amazing asset to the board. She thankfully has taken over Instagram and is adding her amazing skills to many areas of the board.
Kelly, Ryan and Lindsey Ransom (another board member) were interviewed this fall for the TODAY magazine and an article will soon be printed about the journey to initiate the Charlie Girl Foundation. In the coming year, Kelly will also be featured in a podcast.
Kelly also was asked by Dr. Naomi Goloff (one of Charlie’s former doctors) to start working with the University of Minnesota Masonic Childrens Hospital as a parent educator for a role that is “Using Standardized Patient Simulations to Improve Primary Palliative Care Skills of Pediatric Fellows During End-Of-Life-Situations”. The role just had it’s forth iteration and the goal is to start creating booster sessions to allow more learning for the fellows. The role is new but inspirational and well received by the many individuals and conferences that are reviewing the results. It’s another way that we are able to see the legacy that Charlie’s life and death have carried on to so many more people than have met her.
It’s been a long and eventful year for the Charlie Girl Foundation. We are working through the growing pains of a new foundation and hope to be more effective in our communication in the years to come and to offer many more ways for those in our community to come alongside the children and families affected by congenital heart defects.
We appreciate all of your generous support this past year. We welcome any suggestions to grow the reach of the foundation. If you attend the benefit and have any ideas on what worked well or might work better, we welcome that too. As the year ends many people like to give financially towards things they believe in. Please feel free to give to the Charlie Girl Foundation and know your finances will be used to financially support children and families with congenital heart defects.
Kelly McManimon & Ryan McManimon, Andrea George, Megan Worsham, Lindsey Ransom, Melissa Johnson, Anna Schmidt, Tim Worsham, and Laura Brown
Genesis - A New Beginning
January 31, 2018
Genesis is our eldest daughter Elliott’s middle name; it means a new beginning. A lot of people choose to look at the new year in the same light. A new year is like a new chapter, a new start, a new beginning. With 2017 being our first year of fundraising and starting the launch of the Charlie Girl Foundation, 2018 also feels like our new beginning - our Genesis as a full fledged foundation. It begins our ability to give, to use the generous donations each one of you has provided to take care of the children and families affected by congenital heart defects.
The end of 2017 brought in additional donations, making our year to date total approximately $30,000.00! An incredible number for our first year! This has allowed the Charlie Girl Foundation the ability to give $3,000.00 to the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital and $3,000.00 to Children's Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota. It also gave us the flexibility to choose to sponsor two families in our first year instead of one. Being able to support two families is an incredible beginning for our foundation, and a huge incentive to keep going. The more money we raise the more families that we can support! Each month we will provide a stipend of $500.00 to each family to use as they see fit. We will provide this support for the full calendar year. We will introduce you to the families soon!
As always we thank you for your incredible support and generous donations to such a worthy cause.
Kelly and Ryan and the Board of Charlie Girl Foundation
2017 Benefit Recap
October 27, 2017
It’s been a month since the benefit, and I am still decompressing. The morning after I think our entire family felt like they had a hangover. We were so emotionally tired. I am still amazed at how incredibly successful it was! As the founder, I had some goals and expectations in my head that I was hopeful to meet. My family and board members were careful to keep me grounded and also to work hard with me to make it as much of what I hoped for as they could, but I think some of them thought I was a bit crazy. I really wanted 100 auction items, and 100 bottles of beer/wine for the wine pull. I wanted 200 people, and I was so hopeful that we could raise $10,000.
Through a lot of hard work, the auction items started to come in mid-summer, and by fall they were pouring in. In fact when we started selling tickets to the benefit, which proved to be a far slower process, we began to get concerned as a board because we had more items (over 100) than people coming to the benefit. Even two weeks before the benefit was going to happen we had only about 90 people signed up to come. But you guys were faithful supporters and continued to buy your tickets up until the last moment. We knew it might be hard outside of the city, and on a Thursday night . . . but incredibly we sold 185 tickets! Over 100 items, nearly 200 people, and just under 100 bottles for the wine/beer pull. My goals were turning into a reality. Then the event happened, the benefit itself . . . it all came together into what felt to me like a wedding and Charlie’s funeral combined. It was incredibly satisfying to have the night become a reality, to see you all attend, and to hug so many of you who have supported us for years. It was also two days after the 6th anniversary of her death. That was hard. That is always hard, but that is also why we do this. We give back, we honor her, we give her life the legacy and meaning that started with her birth, and will not end with her death.
That night, hitches and all (you know that check-out line – wowza) was still, in my mind, incredibly successful. We learned a lot as a board, and each year it will get better and better. But despite the crazy check out, I have heard, and I am grateful that many of you enjoyed the night and had a great time. You were also wonderfully generous and supportive of the cause. Because of that, I can’t wait to share this next part with you. We raised over $20,000. Money is still coming in and I imagine it will actually be far closer to $25,000! We blew past my goal of $10,000, the goal I thought was far reaching. We doubled it. Incredible.
This will mean so much for children and families with congenital heart defects. We are so thankful and so proud of our first year. We are already in touch with both hospitals and are moving forward with finding our first family to support. We will continue to keep you posted on the distribution of the money you helped to raise.
Thank you for your beautiful support of pediatric heart research!
A Frozen New Year
January 7, 2017
This morning it was -10 on my way to work. I usually disregarded the frigid temps and left for work with wet hair which instantly froze. I did at least wear boots to work instead of just my flats, and I’m thankful I did.
On my way home tonight I felt the urge to stop by Charlotte's graveside. I pass it everyday to and from work but rarely stop. The site is important and meaningful to me, but it does not hold her spirit or many memories for me. However, it does symbolize my loss and at times it's very comforting to stop by, remember her, and kiss two fingers and place them on her footprints.
When I stopped today, it didn’t occur to me that it would be difficult to find her gravestone due to the snow. In the children’s garden where Charlie is buried, her grave is nearly centered on a statue. From that starting point I found the area I hoped was hers and began to kick the snow out with my boots. It took awhile and as I was doing it I realized how cathartic it was to unbury my little girl’s gravestone. Wishing of course that it was she instead that was being unburied, but just finding her name and footprints were a relief. It’s a fear of many bereaved parents that their child’s memory will be forgotten or ignored, and her graveside being buried in snow triggered that for me. Uncovering it brought her back, and made it so that she could once again be identified and remembered in that space. Once it was uncovered I was able to kiss her little footprints like I do every time we visit. It was what I needed. I didn’t stay long - the air is far too cold today to stay outside long - but the short visit allowed me to grieve and remember her in the quiet space of the children’s garden.
I was grateful I visited but also instantly reminded of our first time at the cemetery. Near Charlie’s grave I saw markers in the snow labeling the spaces for a new child to be buried. The reason they are out signifies someone else’s loss. Someone else had to come to the children’s garden and pick the space where their child’s body will lay, and where they will visit and grieve their child. It breaks my heart to think of anyone else having to go through the same loss. The graveside provides a space for grief, and this foundation provides a space to honor and remember. I’m so grateful for that, and for an outlet to channel goodness from pain and loss. Charlie Girl Foundation is providing an outlet to care for others and to remember and honor her in the process.
With the new year beginning, I’m reminded and motivated to do many things: eat better, work out more – or at all :), invest more in my family and faith, and finish what I’ve started. This foundation is part of that. It has begun but there is more to do! We need now to raise money. Money towards research – to eliminate the need for gravestones like Charlotte's, and money to provide financial support – to children and families dealing with congenital heart defects. It’s time for the foundation to grow!
In recent weeks, multiple companies have reached out willing to partner with us and begin raising funds for Charlie Girl Foundation. These exciting opportunities will get us started in growing this foundation more quickly. Keep an eye on the website and Facebook pages for more information about our partners. If you or someone you know is interested in partnering with us, please connect with us. We look forward to hearing from you!
I would be remise in not thanking those who recently have donated and supported the foundation. In December alone we had multiple individuals and families donate via the website! Each donation makes a significant difference, and we cannot thank you enough for your support! Thank you all who have donated to this worthy cause!
With Love, Kelly
September 7, 2016
Starting this foundation has been a journey—a long and difficult journey some days, but one also filled with wonderful surprises. It began as a helpful path through the grief, but it has also been a way to witness the generous support and love of those around us.
This is not new to us, but it is always beautiful to be reminded that there are so many good, good people in this world. While we were in the hospital with Charlotte we had friends and family who cared daily for our daughter Elliott, who was a baby as well. We had meals delivered multiple times per week. Gift cards, magazines, CD’s, cards, and flowers were sent over and over to let us know that we were supported and not forgotten. It was truly amazing to have such a team behind us. We felt extremely blessed.
This is what we hope for the families we will be supporting. As a medical social worker, I see daily that this level of care and support is rarely the case for other people. While I work, I see people in moments of crisis, dealing with the health and mortality of themselves or a loved one and some of them have next to no support. Our hope and mission is to make kids and families dealing with congenital heart defects feel what we felt: a loving and supportive community.
We need funds in order to support these children and families. Our plan is to have a yearly event, which will include a silent auction; however, the reality of holding a fundraiser is that it costs money to throw such an event. We are still in the stage of raising initial support to fully launch this foundation on good solid footing.
While we have worked towards this endeavor, we have been trying to come up with ways for individuals to support us in fun and creative ways. Our first goal was to launch our products on this website, which we have been able to do and if you have not checked them out please do – there are two products at this time: a Charlie Girl T-shirt and a key chain by Leather Works MN. You can locate them by clicking on the support tab and then the shop tab.
Elliott, our daughter, also wanted to do her part in raising some money for her sister’s foundation. She came up with the idea of raffling off some baskets at her daycare. She wanted to create an art basket, a book basket and a slumber party/movie basket, and she wrote a letter to some of her friends asking to help us create the baskets with donated items. We approached her daycare, New Horizon’s, with this idea and to our surprise they ran it all the way up to corporate. Shortly after, they came back with word from corporate that they thought this was a great idea and would have baskets ready for us to raffle off. We were beyond surprised – they made the baskets for us, full of amazing goodies and they look adorable to boot! These are the moments that you see the truly good and generous hearts of others in moments of need. This support will help us raise more money and support for families like us, dealing with the precarious balance of life in and out of a hospital caring for their sick child. Anything we can do to support families in these moments is truly amazing, and seeing the support of New Horizon’s and those of you that have already been supporting us through the years is inspirational!
Take a peek at these beautiful baskets and if so inclined please buy a raffle ticket…or better yet buy lots and lots of raffle tickets! Support the heart families in need and possibly win a basket too! This too can be found by clicking above the support tab and then select shop. When you purchase a ticket, Elliott will write your name on a raffle ticket and put it in a jar. On September 19th we will draw three winners and announce them here.
FYI – we will not be able to ship these baskets out of state, but we can deliver locally. (If you’d like to volunteer to help deliver, that can be arranged as well.) If you still would like to support this endeavor and live out of state, consider buying raffle tickets anyhow. If you win, we will gladly donate your winning basket to a child at the hospital. Or check out our t-shirts and key chains still up for sale these can be shipped anywhere!
Thanks for coming back to visit the site and supporting this wonderful cause. We appreciate it.
Sincerely, Kelly and the Charlie Girl Team