On Wednesday, October 13, longtime members of the Children’s Cancer Research Fund community gathered to celebrate the dedication of the Katie Hageboeck Children’s Cancer Research Fund Clinic. The newly named clinic at M Health Fairview Masonic Children’s Hospital honors the memory of 13-year-old Katie Hageboeck of Wayzata, Minnesota who requested that her savings for a new 10-speed bike be used to help kids with cancer. The Pediatric Specialty Care Journey Clinic at the Masonic Children’s Hospital, which provides world-class care to children and families facing childhood cancer, will now be called the Katie Hageboeck Children’s Cancer Research Fund Clinic.
Katie passed away after a 16-month battle with leukemia. She received her treatment at the University of Minnesota, and her request in 1979 sparked her parents to donate her bike savings to Children’s Cancer Research Fund, then a little-known fund within the University of Minnesota.
Two years later, the Hageboecks launched Dawn of a Dream which would become CCRF’s marquee event. In addition to funding millions in family programs and cancer research at institutions across the country, CCRF and its donors have raised over $100 million in funding for the pediatric cancer program at the University, helping advance global innovation and discovery in pediatric cancer research, education and care. CCRF is one of the University’s largest donors and its largest funder of pediatric cancer research.
“Katie’s wish, to help other children like her, is being fulfilled through the incredible research and care provided by the University of Minnesota. Our mission has always been to raise money for childhood cancer research, and we are so proud of Katie’s significant impact on the progress of treating and curing all kids with cancer," said Norm Hageboeck, Katie’s father. “Her wish over 40 years ago is providing hope for families today.”
“We’re extremely moved and grateful to have this clinic named for Katie. It’s an enduring testament to her memory, and an amazing outcome of her wish, that we can serve and support childhood cancer patients and survivors in such a strong capacity with this clinic," said Diana Hageboeck, Katie’s mother.
The event, hosted by Norm and Diana Hageboeck’s nephew Jay Higgins, included a special message from University of Minnesota Medical School Dean Jakub Tolar, remarks from Dream Further campaign co-chairs Megan Lindahl Goodrich and Jane Cady Pirtle, representing families who have been with CCRF since the organization began 40 years ago.
Attendees also heard from Michelle Vaith, mom of Brooklyn, a leukemia survivor who receives her survivorship follow-up care at Katie’s Clinic. Michelle delivered an emotional message about CCRF’s incredible impact over 40 years, and how Katie’s legacy lives on through Brooklyn, who is thriving today.
“Brooklyn’s journey was so incredibly long and difficult, but she made it through. She is a survivor. At her last checkup in what is now Katie’s Clinic, Brooklyn’s doctor described her health as ‘boring.’ Brooklyn was initially offended by this term, but once she realized it meant she does not show any major long-term side effects at this time, she was happy to be ‘boring,’ Michelle said. “My heart is heavy for Katie and for the many children like her who did not have the chance to be called survivors. But, THEY ARE HEROES. Katie and her family are heroes to moms like me and to our families. This amazing legacy you have built over the years through hard work and dedication to this important cause has led to better care for kids like Brooklyn, just as Katie had hoped.”
The celebration concluded with moving remarks from Norm Hageboeck, who shared a story of the special coincidences that stemmed from a search for the type of bike Katie had been saving up for before her passing. When longtime friend Sean Pirtle helped him find one, he was blown away by a few little details.
“It looked brand new and it was bright red, like the one Katie wanted. I looked at the license plate and it says 1979 to 1981. 1979 is the year Katie died – 1981 is the year we held Dawn of a Dream for the first time. Talk about a nudge from God,” Norm said. “I had paid $140 for the red bicycle Sean found – when I looked at the balance in Katie’s savings book, it said $143. Those coincidences make me emotional, but they also make me feel like Katie would be so proud to see all of us here and see what we’ve accomplished for kids like her.”
The Katie Hageboeck Children’s Cancer Research Fund Clinic
Designed to speed the translation of research into treatments for childhood cancer and adjacent to Masonic Children's Hospital, the Katie Hageboeck Children’s Cancer Research Fund Clinic is one of the hospital’s core areas for the treatment of the sickest kids with cancer or blood disorders.
Healthcare professionals offer the highest quality treatment along with personalized care based on each child's needs. The clinic services more than 10,300 exam visits and more than 5,500 infusion visits each year.