Katrina Wallmeyer | 09.23.22
Pictured above: CaringBridge CEO Tia Newcomer, Artist Connie Minowa, Molly Jungbauer, CEO of Hollstadt Consulting and CaringBridge Board Treasurer, Baby Brighid Parents JoAnn Hardegger and Darrin Swanson
A tribute to two births happened on Thursday, September 22, 2022 in front of a sea of family and friends.
Brighid Swanson was born 25 years ago at 24 weeks and weighed just 1 pound. She did not survive long enough to make it home. During her hospital stay, she faced many complications, and her parents JoAnn Hardegger and Darrin Swanson were understandably overwhelmed emotionally. Their friend Sona Mehring offered to keep family and friends updated and after a few emotional calls thought, “there’s got to be a better way.” Being a computer programmer, she decided to create a website (a novel idea at the time), and CaringBridge was born.
“The care we received from the health care teams at both Children’s Minnesota and United Hospital still resonates in our hearts 25 years later,” said Darrin Swanson and JoAnn Hardegger. “We wanted to find a way to memorialize the place where CaringBridge and Brighid were born. Brighid’s heart still beats through the endless good that Sona and CaringBridge have done for us all.”
Commissioned artwork, painted by Connie Minowa, was unveiled at the event on Thursday, September 22, 2022 at the CaringBridge Office in Eagan, MN. It will later be displayed at Allina Health’s United Hospital near the entrance to the Mother Baby Center and the NICU at Children’s Minnesota – St. Paul. Not only was Brighid born there but Darrin (now retired) worked at Allina Health’s United Hospital, where JoAnn still works as a wound ostomy clinician.
We wanted to find a way to memorialize the place where CaringBridge and Brighid were born. Brighid’s heart still beats through the endless good that Sona and CaringBridge have done for us all.”Darrin Swanson, Baby Brighid’s dad
“We are incredibly grateful that JoAnn and Darrin chose to include Allina Health in this tribute to their daughter and her legacy that lives on through CaringBridge,” said Jill Ostrem, president, United and Mercy Hospitals. “We hope the nature-themed artwork brings a moment of joy to patients, families, care teams, employees and visitors as they pass through our halls.”
Artwork with a Heart and Soul
“When Darrin came to me with an idea for a commissioned mural for the hospital, I felt so honored and excited to work on such a project,” said artist Connie Minowa. “I loved that it was a piece inspired by Darrin and JoAnn’s daughter Brighid. I know some of the grief they felt and still feel having lost my two year old son unexpectedly. Your heart is never the same after that.”
“This commission was a vision of the kind of place Brighid and really anyone can reside,” said Connie. “The big tree symbolizes growth, strength, and stability. The animals are thought to be guides for love, wisdom, time, and comfort. They are there to keep you company. The leaves and the energy of reaching upwards is almost like a prayer. A surrendering to the awe and the seasons of change.”
“The rainbow and creek remind us that there is a resiliency and a need to bend and go with the flow. Life has its storms, its big waves ready to crash onto the boat, but we have to trust the journey, and lead with our heart.”
“Brighid is represented as a bridge, serving as a path to cross over, and a place to stop and ponder, and remember to appreciate the here and now. And finally the herons…Sometimes when you work on a piece, a being comes forward and says it wants to be included. To me, the heron is there inviting you to move forward on your journey.”
“In closing, I am so thankful to do these paintings, and especially that it will be outside the NICU. I hope it serves as a pause and a place of comfort for all those parents struggling with babies who need extra help. And also serve to remind them that they are not alone.”
Join in Supporting Brighid’s Legacy
The sponsors of the artwork are CaringBridge Founder Sona Mehring and Hollstadt Consulting.
“Hollstadt is proud to sponsor the Baby Brighid Memorial Art Installation at Children’s/United Hospital as it represents 25 years of helping ensure no one will go through a health journey alone,” said Molly Jungbauer, CEO of Hollstadt Consulting and CaringBridge Board Treasurer.
“Over the years, CaringBridge has built a bridge allowing millions to connect with their loved ones to offer their support and love. The power of connection and ability to help healing cannot be underestimated. Hollstadt is proud of the work CaringBridge has done over the past 25 years and looks forward to even more innovative ways CaringBridge will help connect communities and improve health outcomes in the future.”
About Allina Health
Allina Health is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of illness and enhancing the greater health of individuals, families and communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. A not-for-profit health care system, Allina Health cares for patients from beginning to end-of-life through its 90+ clinics, 10 hospitals, 15 retail pharmacies, specialty care centers and specialty medical services that provide home care, senior health, hospice care, and emergency medical transportation services. Learn more at allinahealth.org and join us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
CaringBridge is a nonprofit social network that helps people connect with friends and family during a health journey. Founded in Eagan, Minn. in 1997 by Sona Mehring, CaringBridge has made it simple and safe to offer or ask for support when it’s needed most. With more than 400,000 active daily users—CaringBridge offers simple tools for patients and their caregivers to share health updates and rally their community’s support. A health journey of any kind—diagnosis, injury, medical or behavioral illness, pregnancy complications or other experiences—is difficult to endure alone. CaringBridge is here to ensure that no one goes through a health journey alone.
About Hollstadt Consulting
Hollstadt Consulting is a woman-owned consulting firm that delivers customized talent solutions built on authentic lasting relationships. We hire and place consultants in a wide variety of roles within the IT and Business project lifecycle. Our clients trust our expertise to find top talent, and our consultants love the value and options we bring them. The diversity of opportunities within IT and business teams across so many industries is hard to find at any other firm.