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The Jorgenson family — (from left) Nikki, Kate, Jim and Jack — pose for a photo wearing their Kate’s Kourage T-shirts. (PHOTO COURTESY WESTBROOK SENTINEL-TRIBUNE)

Fundraiser tonight for girl injured in ATV accident

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Fundraiser tonight for girl injured in ATV accident
Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

WESTBROOK — Expect a sea of orange T-shirts at tonight’s Westbrook-Walnut Grove volleyball match against Southwest United. Six-hundred brightly colored T-shirts have been sold in support of Kate Jorgenson, a Westbrook sixth-grader who lost her left arm as a result of a farming/ATV accident on June 17.

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The shirts — which state ‘Kate’s Kourage’ on the front and a slogan that Kate herself came up with on the back — are just the most visible sign of how the Westbrook community has rallied around the young girl and her family. The efforts will culminate tonight with an “Orange Out” fundraiser in conjunction with the volleyball match.

On June 17, Kate, her brother Jack and a couple of friends had just finished picking rock and were returning to their home just east of Westbrook when the ATV Ranger she was riding rolled, severing her left arm just above the elbow. After initial treatment at Sanford Westbrook Medical Center, Kate was taken via air ambulance to North Memorial Hospital Trauma Center in the Twin Cities. Surgery to repair her arm was already under way by the time her parents, Jim and Nikki, reached the hospital. The reattachment was successful, but after two weeks infection forced amputation of the limb.

But loss of her arm has just been a bump in the road for Kate, according to W-WG Volleyball Coach Cathy Baumann, who coached Kate as a member of the Loggers J-O Volleyball Team and is helping organize tonight’s benefit.

“She’s doing fantastic,” reported Baumann. “She’s kind of a model citizen, what everybody should aspire to. She’s always been a driven young lady, and that’s kept up through this, if not increased. She just tries to figure out how to do things on her own and tries to do her best. She’s still playing basketball and volleyball and has been doing a camp on Saturdays in Windom. … It’s just amazing what’s she’s done and where she’s going to go because you know it’s only going to be good things for her.”

Tonight’s fundraiser is a joint effort between the W-WG volleyball and Loggers teams, and preparations have been under way for months, beginning with T-shirt sales. The color orange was chosen because it is Kate’s favorite color.

 “We started selling the T-shirts back in August,” Baumann said, adding that the latest shipment — already sold out — was expected today. “Kate came up with the saying on the back: ‘Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit because there are footprints on the moon.’”

Baumann also anticipated that a raffle — 1,000 tickets were printed — will be a sell-out before tonight. More than 70 prizes were all solicited by the volleyball players.

“They went out to the businesses and did the talking,” said Baumann. “They’ve shown a lot of pride in what they’re doing, and the results are just fantastic. It’s not always easy as a high-schooler to go out to different businesses and talk to adults — it can be a little intimidating — but we’ve had nothing but compliments from all the different places they’ve visited. … We’ve got everything from a shotgun and goose decoys to a mini iPad, Dr. Dre Beats headphones and multiple gift certificates ranging in value from $25 to more than $300.”

Baumann said Westbrook has always been a “tight-knit community,” but the support for Kate and the volleyball teams’ efforts has been overwhelming.

“You always know people are out to do good things and want to help, but in an instance like this, it’s just amazing how many people have come to us,” she said. “We just got the ball rolling, and everything else has just come with it.”

So far, more than $12,000 has been raised to help the Jorgensons with medical expenses and Kate’s continuing treatment, which will eventually include the fitting of a prosthetic limb. That total will be added to with a Whopper Feed event tonight from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Westbrook school. A fee will be charged for the meal, and buckets will also be put out for free-will donations, with all proceeds going to the Kate’s Kourage fund.

At the heart of the event will be Kate herself, who wrote a letter that will be distributed during tonight’s events.

“The word ‘courage’ is an adjective that many people have used to describe my attempt to overcome the circumstances that I have been faced with during my new journey,” writes Kate. “This was not part of my plan … but God’s plan which has given me a complete understanding of faith. My journey of faith will challenge me in many ways and take me to places I have never thought of before. Being challenged as I have since June 17, 2013, has taught me your limits are only in your mind. So don’t tell me the sky is the limit because there are footprints on the moon.”

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Beth Rickers
Beth Rickers is the veteran in the newspaper staff with 25 years as the Daily Globe's Features Editor. Interests include cooking, traveling and beer tasting and making with her home-brewing husband, Bryan. She writes an Area Voices blog called Lagniappe, which is a Creole term that means "a little something extra." It can be found at http://lagniappe.areavoices.com/.  
(507) 376-7327
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