August 17, 2012. Day two of Natalie's treatment, she had just come out of surgery where they inserted her mediport where from that day on she'd receive her chemo, fluids + transfusions.
In April of 2013 the Gorsegners launched their first fundraiser by
posting this photo of Natalie + mom Andrea, referring to this
as their "Dollar Campaign." Their goal was to raise $50,000 by Natalie's (then) 4th birthday that September and ended up raising $110,000.
Dan Gorsegner (left), with one of his workers Travis Fascia, standing in the kitchen of the Ronald McDonald house where he donated the sanding/finishing of their hardwood floors.
Hannah in August of 2014 explaining why she was shaving her
head in a blog post that she did for The Truth 365.
Hannah glowing with confidence after her shave.
August 16, 2012 is a date that the Gorsegners will never forget as that’s the day that they were told that their (then) 3-year-old daughter Natalie Grace had high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The road was a long one for their family as their lives were turned completely upside down, however after a long, difficult fight Natalie (now 8-years-old) completed her chemo treatment and was deemed cancer FREE on November 26th 2014!
About two months into Natalie’s fight, the Gorsegner's quickly started discovering the ugly truths behind childhood cancer, like for one that it’s the number one disease killer of our children in this country! As one shocking stat after another began to unfold they knew that they had to do everything that they could to raise both awareness and funding for research, and so they began campaigning via Natalie’s Facebook page asking that everyone send them just a single dollar to go towards childhood cancer research (they called this their, "Will You Send Us a Dollar" campaign). In just four short years the family has raised over a half of a million dollars with every penny having gone towards fulfilling research grants!
In the process of fundraising the Gorsegner's have also shone a bright light onto the childhood cancer community inspiring many others to help along the way. With their “Dollar Campaign” alone, people from all over the country (even the world) have sent them donations along with some pretty beautiful notes. These same people have held their own bake + yard sales, kids have emptied their piggy banks, have arranged rock concerts, sold their own belongings, fire departments have passed around their helmets for donations, girl scouts have held car washes, one family even sold their car…the generosity from these beautiful strangers has been endless therefore the Gorsegner's want to recognize that these grants were a group effort and without the help from all of these caring people, supporting this research would have not been possible!
While it is the Gorsegner's main focus to fund vital research, they also know first hand the pain of having to struggle financially (due to a parent needing to leave their job to care for their child) and therefore they do what they can to help their fellow childhood cancer families financially. In conjunction with this they also know the importance in finding joy and the occasional feeling of normalcy in small ways therefore they try to orchestrate small wishes and send care packages to fighters whenever possible. The Gorsegner's make themselves available to these families 24/7 as they are too aware that despite love and support from your own family and friends, sometimes needing to talk to someone who has walked your path makes you feel a lot less lonely.
Individually the Gorsegners do what they can to enhance their overall efforts. For instance Natalie’s dad Dan (via his family run hardwood flooring business) regularly donates part of his sales to childhood cancer families in need, as well as most recently has donated a sanding + finishing job to the Ronald McDonald House in Long Branch. Mom Andrea never turns down an opportunity to publicly speak about childhood cancer, whether she’s talking to an audience of 5 or 500, she knows that no matter the crowd, educating others about childhood cancer is key! Also, as a professional photographer Andrea donates portrait sessions regularly to any family effected by childhood cancer and has devoted countless volunteer hours as a member of The Truth 365 awareness team where she not only obtained free ad space in Times Square for their filming of the Emmy award winning PSA ad entitled “Get Wind of This”, but she also secured The Truth 365 with their first celebrity spokesperson, national news journalist Lisa Ling.
Even big sister Hannah Rose (9-years-old) has stepped up through the years to help. Aside from being there unconditionally for Natalie’s every need (she’s referred to as the Natalie whisperer), Hannah has also given many heartfelt speeches, she has donated the contents of her piggy bank (multiple times) and has even been published in Bright Lite magazine where she wrote about her sister’s journey and her overall love for Natalie. In addition to all of this, Hannah has shaved her head completely bald two years in a row on the floor of the NY Stock Exchange with the Arms Wide Open Childhood Cancer Foundation.. And despite having been teased by some of her peers the last time around (October 2015), Hannah turned the negativity into a positive by starting her own Facebook page Happiness with Hannah as well as she plans on shaving her head once again this October! This little girl has more love and selflessness in her heart then most people ever will in their lifetime.
While the Gorsegners feel blessed that Natalie has survived, it’s impossible to go back to the lives that they knew pre-childhood cancer. They have felt not only their own pain in having to watch Natalie go through the unthinkable, but they’ve had to, and continue to, witness close friends lose their own children to this relentless disease. Childhood cancer is
NOT rare and unfortunately more and more children are being diagnosed each year and yet funding for childhood cancer has gone down.
Thank you in advance for getting to know our family, we hope that you now understand why our efforts are so important and will consider joining us in our fight against childhood cancer.
Natalie shaving Hannah's head on the floor of the NYSE (October 2014) at the Arms Wide Open Childhood Cancer's annual event.