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CMN Heroes create holiday cards

Thanks to the generosity of a local partner and the creative talents of its Heroes, Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) is once again spreading cheer this season through its holiday greeting card campaign. It’s an initiative that’s raised thousands of dollars for CMN by showcasing the artwork of its little ambassadors, whose families have benefited from the money they’re helping raise through their efforts.

Each year since 1987, Children’s Miracle Network, in partnership with Empire Screen Printing and its Heroes program, has produced the holiday cards, which are sold in the days leading up to Christmas to spread awareness of CMN, as well as provide funding for its programming, said Beth Noffsinger, CMN specialist at Gundersen Health System. This is the 10th year that the holiday pack features art from each of the five CMN Heroes.

“Each year, we have several families who are generous enough to donate their time to Children’s Miracle Network, and they’re all families who have utilized various CMN services in the past,” Noffsinger says. “(With this project), we give them an idea for a card, and the children paint them. It’s just beautiful artwork. It turns out wonderfully each year.”

On Thursday, one of those children, six-year-old Piper Gentry, and her dad, Dan, were at Empire Screen Printing promoting this year’s lineup of cards. For the past 35 years, Empire has donated the materials and labor used in creating the cards, allowing 100% of the proceeds to go to CMN. It’s a cause Empire owner Jim Brush believes in and was quick to support when approached.

“It’s important to him to work with foundations in the community, and when this came up, he was pretty set on helping support Children’s Miracle Network,” says Jennifer Schloesser, the creative director at Empire. “He likes to be part of the community where children are involved, and if he can do something, after he created this business, to give back to the community, that is his goal.”

And Hero families that benefit from this kind of philanthropy, Noffsinger finds, are eager to promote a program that helped support them in big and small ways while navigating their difficult medical journeys early on in life. That support comes by way of meal voucher certificates and gas cards for some, to funding the purchase of adaptive medical equipment for others.

“The Hero program has been a phenomenal way for people to see their donation in action,” Noffsinger says. “And for a lot of our families, it’s a wonderful opportunity for them. They love the opportunity to get in front of the folks who’ve helped support CMN over the years.”

One of those families belongs to Piper, a first grader at Southern Bluffs Elementary School in La Crosse who was born prematurely and spent more than 100 days in the NICU at Gundersen. Throughout that time, Dan said the family received a lot of help from CMN while they spent most of their time at the hospital.

“That was very helpful for our family at the time, just to not have to worry about those simple things like putting gas in the car and getting meals,” he says.

The Gentrys jumped at the chance to participate in the Hero program because it was a great opportunity to help other families like theirs get assistance when it’s needed most.

“We wanted to help spread the message, spread the word and talk about this great program that’s here for our community,” Dan says. “I think (Piper) has been a good ambassador for the program. She’s learned a lot and got to meet a lot of people and hear a lot of inspiring and positive stories.”

The holiday cards come in packs of 20 for $8, and they can be purchased at several Gundersen pharmacies, including those in the Onalaska Clinic and the main campus in La Crosse, as well as the Gundersen Medical Foundation office in downtown La Crosse and the gift shop in the La Crosse Hospital. You may also contact the Foundation to have cards shipped for a flat $5 fee.

For more information, call the Foundation at (608) 775-6600, email [email protected], or stop by the office at 201 Third St. N. in La Crosse.

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