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23rd annual Children's Star Gala nets more than $2 million to support the care of unborn babies and their mothers

Children's signature event has raised more than $17 million since its inception in 1992

MINNEAPOLIS, April 8, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 1,100 people filled The Historic Milwaukee Road Depot on Saturday, April 5 and raised more than $2 million for Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota's fetal care program. The Midwest Fetal Care Center, a collaboration of Children's and Abbott Northwestern, is the only fetal care program of its kind in the Upper Midwest that treats babies before they are born.

The evening was complete with inspirational stories from patient families and doctors, silent and live auctions, as well as dinner and dancing. Children's Star Gala has raised more than $2 million each of the last three years.

This year, proceeds from Children's Star Gala supported the Midwest Fetal Care Center. Children's has a proud history caring for babies around the region, including those most fragile due to prematurity and other congenital conditions, while delivering some of the best outcomes in the country. Now, thanks to advances in fetal medicine, Children's is able to detect, diagnose and treat potential problems before a baby is born - including, where necessary, performing surgery on a baby while still inside its mother's womb.

"Once again, I am astounded by the generosity of the Twin Cities community shown at Children's Star Gala," said Theresa Pesch, RN, president of Children's Foundation. "Our goal for the Midwest Fetal Care Center is to be one of only a handful of advanced fetal care centers in the country. With the support shown by our generous donors, I have no doubts we are positioned to achieve that goal."

During the event, guests gave a standing ovation to 9-year-old Children's patient Cecilia Savard following her performance of "Let It Go" from Disney's "Frozen." Treated at Children's for a broken arm, Cecilia was put at ease by a technician who entered her room singing. Before long, Cecilia's cast was set and she and the technician had entertained the whole clinic.

The audience was also deeply moved by parents Jake and Andi Jo Kurtz, who shared the story of their daughter, Astella, who was diagnosed with an extensive abdominal defect before birth. Her condition was so severe that other experts from across the country said she had zero chance of survival. Undeterred, the Midwest Fetal Care Center developed a customized treatment plan for Astella; one that had never been attempted before elsewhere. After multiple procedures and 140 days in Children's NICU, she has beaten all odds and is now a happy 13-month old.

KARE11 meteorologist Belinda Jensen served for the fifteenth time as event emcee.

A photo recap of the evening's festivities can be found on the Children's Mighty Blog.

Major sponsors of Children's Star Gala included: Whitebox Mutual Funds; United Health Foundation; Ryan Companies US, Inc. and Ryan families; and Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, LLP.

About Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota

Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota is one of the largest pediatric health systems in the United States and the only health system in Minnesota to provide care exclusively to children, from before birth through young adulthood. An independent and not-for-profit system since 1924, Children's serves kids throughout the Upper Midwest at two free-standing hospitals, 12 primary and specialty-care clinics and six rehabilitation sites. Children's maintains its longstanding commitment to the community to improve children's health by providing high-quality, family-centered pediatric services and advancing those efforts through research and education. An award-winning health system, Children's is regularly ranked by U.S. News & World Report as a top children's hospital and by The Leapfrog Group for quality and efficiency. Please visit childrensMN.org.

SOURCE Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota

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