Kelsey’s Story


This is the true tale of how one man’s fight with cancer—and his granddaughter’s allowance—kicked off a half-million dollar fundraiser for the North Memorial Health Cancer Care Pharmacy.

Kelsey was best friends with her grandfather, Virgil.  He taught her to swim and fish, and also how to give generously to others in need.  Virgil fought a long, hard battle against cancer throughout his treatment at the North Memorial Cancer Center and never let it slow him down.  He even made it down to Texas, his winter home, for his last cold season.  When he took a turn for the worse, North Memorial staff connected his family to the resources needed to ensure medical transportation so he could be in Minnesota during his last days.  He eventually passed away, surrounded by his family and friends, at North Memorial Hospital.

Kelsey often went to treatment with Virgil at the North Memorial Cancer Center and was even there when they received the news that his diagnosis was most likely terminal.  Drawing on the lessons her grandfather had taught her, she collected her allowance money and delivered it to the North Memorial Cancer Center with the request that it be used to help others who could not pay for their treatments.  The team members at the Cancer Center were deeply touched by the gift and carefully distributed the funds to individuals in their care.

Five years later, Kelsey’s story helped inspire the creation of the Cancer Care Pharmacy Fund at North Memorial Foundation.  Kelsey and her family shared their story at the 2016 Making Compassion Count Gala and helped raise over $500,000.  Funds from the event will be used to help patients who are unable to afford their cancer treatment drugs.