(Left to right) Bev Berger, Kutter Berger and Amanda, Birch and Aaron Boerboom.

‘Child life made a huge difference’

October 25, 2019

The Sanford Health Foundation recently surpassed its fundraising goal for the Above and Beyond campaign for child life.

Bev Berger and her family never imagined they would need child life, especially not twice in just a few months’ time.

The program, which launched in 2018 at Sanford Bismarck, uses music and play to help children manage stress, express feelings and cope with the physical, social and emotional challenges of a hospital visit.

The child life team — Certified Child Life Specialist Ashley Renton and Board-Certified Music Therapist Bobbi Jo Vandal — go anywhere children are in need at Sanford Bismarck.

To support Bev’s grandsons, Kutter Berger and Birch Boerboom, that meant visiting both the Sanford Children’s Hospital and the adult intensive care unit.

The family’s first interaction came in January when Bev’s youngest grandson, Birch, was hospitalized for an infection. His parents, Amanda and Aaron Boerboom, were overwhelmed seeing their little boy in a hospital room.

Watch Birch’s story:


Just a few months later, the family found themselves again at Sanford Bismarck, this time under even more difficult circumstances. Bev’s 36-year-old son, DJ Berger, was in critical condition. He had survived a battle with cancer, but the treatment left his immune system severely weakened.

Bev knew her son would never go home. The family’s attention turned to DJ’s 10-year-old son, Kutter, who was about to lose his father.

Watch Kutter’s story:


Going Above and Beyond

The gift of child life wouldn’t be available today without our generous donors to the Above and Beyond campaign. Philanthropy helped launch the region’s first child life program at Sanford Bismarck last fall.

With donor support, we’ve now surpassed our fundraising goal, ensuring these services will always be available for our region’s children at no cost to families.

Thank you to every family, business and individual that supported this effort. Gifts of all sizes will continue to help families like the Bergers for many years to come.

To learn more about the Above and Beyond campaign, visit sanfordhealthfoundation.org/childlife.