Lions, Raptors and Bears ... oh my!: Rivals come together for causeTwo rival hockey teams came together to bring a little joy to the lives of others last week.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, Woodbury Bulletin
Two rivals came together to bring a little joy to the lives of others last week.
The East Ridge and Woodbury girls hockey teams held a Teddy Bear Toss fundraiser during their head-to-head game on Friday, Feb. 3, at Bielenberg Sports Complex.
Fans brought Teddy Bears wrapped in a plastic bags and tossed them onto the ice after the game’s first goal. All Teddy Bears were then donated in memory of former East Ridge student Ann Haering to The Children’s Lighthouse of Minnesota — a program hoping to raise $8 million to open the state’s first children's hospice home. In all, 76 Teddy Bears were donated to Children’s Lighthouse.
“I think it was a great thing to do,” East Ridge first-year head coach Craig Norwich said. “If it helps out misfortunate kids, that’s the least we can do for them.”
Haering, 18, passed away at her Woodbury home on Feb. 20, 2011, after a four-year battle with leukemia.
Last February, the girls on East Ridge and Woodbury dedicated their game to Haering, who was gravely ill at the time. Last year, the girls on both the East Ridge and Woodbury teams taped their sticks, socks and helmets in orange tape — which is the color of Ann’s ribbon — and the teams created a photo board with pictures of Ann, made and gave away ribbons for fans and took donations for the Haering family. Also, prior to the game, members from the teams spoke about Ann and her fight with leukemia.
Rivard said Mike Stanton, the dad of Woodbury sophomore Nicole Stanton, came up with the idea of this year’s Teddy Bear Toss.
“He’s worked with people that had done something like this before,” Rivard said. “We wanted to go something for the community. The passing of Ann Haering last year brought the two teams together. We wanted to continue doing things in her memory – for her and for all the other kids we’re going to help with those Teddy Bears.”
Rivard said the athletes enjoy being able to do things for others. In addition to the Teddy Bear Toss, the Woodbury girls also worked at Feed My Starving Children this winter – a program striving to eliminate starvation in children throughout the world.
“Who wouldn’t want to do things like that?” Rivard said. “I think it’s important for the student-athletes. We’re so fortunate to play the game and there are kids that don’t even have enough food to eat.”
Haering’s initial diagnosis came when she was an eighth grader at Lake Junior High in 2007. After nearly two- and a-half years of chemotherapy, Haering was in remission and was able to return to a typical high school life. But, that remission was short-lived. On April 28 of 2010, the leukemia had returned and forced Haering to undergo a blood and bone marrow transplant. Less than a year later, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2011, Haering was admitted to the in-patient intensive-care unit at the University of Minnesota hospital with a serious blood infection, which finally led to her passing.
In her last days, Haering was enrolled in Karuna Care, a program allowing physicians to provide palliative care to children with potentially life-limiting conditions and their families at their homes.
Most children in Minnesota with terminal health conditions die either in the hospital or at home. Minnesota has 15 residential hospice homes for adults, however there are none in the state for kids.
Katie Lindenfelser, a Coon Rapids therapist, began Children's Lighthouse of Minnesota, hoping to raise $8 million and open an 8- to 10-bed children's hospice home in the next three to five years. It would be the third children’s hospice in the United States, although there are numerous similar facilities in the United Kingdom and around the world.
According to its website, the nurturing home environment will have open gathering spaces for children and families to spend time together while staying for respite and a revered suite for children who are dying. Along with daily cares, meals and bathing, Children's Lighthouse of Minnesota will provide unique services for children such as music, art, pet therapies, massage and hydrotherapy.
Rivard said the kids in the programs will always have a place in their hearts for Haering.
“It’s definitely been a moving story,” Rivard said. “Hopefully, they keep things going. These girls have grown up together. They’re rivals on the ice, but at the end of the day, they’re still friends.”