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Previous Heroes

2015-16

Kody Pretasky

Kody Pretasky was born prematurely weighing 3 lbs. 3 oz. In just under three weeks, he went home from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit without any feeding or breathing tubes. That was enough to convince his parents, Kristin and Mark, that Kody was their little trooper and always would be.

At age 2½, Kody was presented with another challenge that would require attention the rest of his life—type 1 diabetes.

Kristin and Mark quickly learned how to monitor their son's blood sugar levels and administer insulin. "Giving Kody shots at such a young age was so difficult and getting him to eat at specific mealtimes was a constant chore," says Kristin.

Fortunately, the Pretaskys found all the support they needed from their family, the Pediatric Diabetes and Endocrinology team at Gundersen and Children's Miracle Network Hospitals® (CMN Hospitals).
"Children's Miracle Network Hospitals gave us meal vouchers when Kody was in the NICU, and helped cover the cost of diabetic supplies and expenses," says Kristin.

When Kody was 3½ years old, CMN Hospitals helped fund an essential piece of equipment, an insulin pump. "Our day-to-day routine used to revolve around insulin shots and mealtimes. Now, Kody can eat when he wants to and do normal things like other kids. The insulin pump has been a lifesaver! We are so grateful to CMN Hospitals for their constant support."

Kody, who will be a 6th grader, never lets diabetes stand in his way. His all-time favorite hobby is reading and he aspires to be an architect someday. His parents know their "little" trooper (now 5 feet 2 inches) has a bright future ahead.

Logan Kelm

Logan Kelm is more than meets the eye.

The Holmen, Wis., boy loves making friends, playing with siblings and is known to savor a slice or two of sausage pizza. He's just 6 years old now, but when he grows up, he wants to be a Transformer. Perhaps the fictional shape-changing mechanical beings of Hollywood blockbuster fame serve as an inspiration for this compassionate boy.

Early in his young life, Logan was diagnosed with merosin-deficient congenital muscular dystrophy, detected not long after he was born. Logan has already experienced some tough times and can expect challenges ahead. He's at risk for heart issues, respiratory illnesses, scoliosis, joint contractures—that will no doubt impact him and his family.

Children's Miracle Network Hospitals® has already helped Logan's family. "CMN Hospitals provides help to those that need it most," says his mom, Andrea.

The compassionate specialty care Logan receives at Gundersen Health System through the Neuromuscular Clinic provides family-centered treatment and the services he needs close to home.

With the help of CMN Hospitals, Logan has a wheelchair-lift for the family van and a wheelchair ramp for his home. CMN Hospitals has helped with others transportation costs as well.

"Most people don't realize how expensive and difficult it is to get equipment for children who have special needs. CMN Hospitals makes the process so much more bearable," says his mom.

With CMN Hospitals and Gundersen on his side, Logan could very well be a Transformer star some day!

Tannek Gilbertson

At just two years old, Tannek Gilbertson is loaded with personality. This outgoing toddler "dances like crazy," his mother, Felicity Baldwin, reports. "It's his favorite thing to do. Anytime music is on, he has to dance."

Tannek also likes to sing, color, play, paint and take car rides, but when he knows he's in trouble he likely to make a run for it. He's a relatively normal kid in most ways…but one.

Tannek was born with his intestines outside his body. Surgery, days after his birth, successfully placed his intestines inside, but it took a long time for him to learn to eat. His parents had to deal with vomiting and intestinal blockages requiring surgery.

Tannek's mother, Felicity, and father, Scott Gilbertson, had their hands full with four young children—three with special health issues. "Children's Miracle Network Hospitals is always there when you need them," remarks Felicity. "It's a great organization."

While Tannek was in the hospital, and later traveling to doctors' appointments, CMN Hospital provided the family with meal vouchers and gas cards. Because he has difficulty easily digesting food, Tannek needed special formula which CMN Hospitals helped the family purchase.

Digestive problems are a way of life for Tannek, but like most growing boys, Tannek still loves to eat. More importantly, he's thriving and happy. Felicity says, "His giggle will make your day."

Eloya Gilbertson

Music has the power to express delight and incite happy feet. It animates 3-year-old Eloya Gilbertson who loves to sing and dance. Her infectious joy bubbles over in her play, artwork and fits of giggles, too. The little girl with the lyrical name is almost always smiling.

To look at her, it's hard to imagine the challenges she and her family faced when Eloya was born with her intestines and part of her stomach outside her body. She was so small that surgery to repair the defect proved difficult, resulting in a very long recovery.

Long days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit took a toll on Eloya's parents, Felicity Baldwin and Scott Gilbertson who, at the time, also had two other young children at home. Children's Miracle Network Hospitals was there to help.

"They helped with meal vouchers for us while Eloya was in the hospital and money for gas to get to and from the hospital," Felicity says. Even after Eloya went home CMN Hospitals reached out to help when Eloya needed special formula and providing gas cards for the many trips to doctors' appointments.

"CMN Hospitals is always there when you need them. It gives parents hope when they need it most," she adds.

Recently diagnosed with epilepsy, Eloya is facing new challenges. Despite that, her parents reports that Eloya is doing great. She loves learning new things and is eager to start school soon.

Mya Berkowitch

The support that Children's Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals gives is as unique as the children and families they help. Case in point: six-year-old Mya Berkowitch from Chippewa Falls, Wis.

Mya has Down syndrome and related health issues such as cognitive, physical and speech delays; vision problems; and a digestive disorder. She was also recently diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. All this translates to frequent appointments with specialist in La Crosse. Traveling from their home in Chippewa Falls, Wis., this is a round trip of about 200 miles.

"Traveling to see specialists can get very expensive," says Mya's mother, Jenel, knowingly. "CMN Hospitals help with gas and meal vouchers which we are personally grateful for."

But then when Mya needed her first pair of special eyeglasses, which were not covered by insurance, CMN Hospitals was there to help, too. They also got Mya an iPad, an important tool to help her with communication and learning.

Jenel explains, "Children with special needs require special equipment that can be expensive. CMN Hospitals help families who may not have the means to purchase the equipment.”

Now in kindergarten, Mya loves school and is showing remarkable improvement. Some of her other favorites include Sesame Street, her Abby Cadabby doll and stuffed puppy, playing with her sister Madelyn, and rare indulgences of pizza and cookies.

"We don't know what the future holds for Mya," says Jenel. "But she's amazing."

Love + Medicine

Every day, Gundersen Health System delivers great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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