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Published July 13 2012

Cullen Children's Foundation gives Sanford $1 million for play area at children's hospital

OXBOW, N.D. – It’s not often someone still in their 30s can see their legacy.

Yet for Matt and Bridget Cullen, their legacy was right there for all to see Friday at the Oxbow Country Club.

The couple announced that their foundation, the Cullen Children’s Foundation, would donate $1 million to the Sanford Health Foundation to build a therapeutic children’s play area for the new Sanford Children’s Hospital proposed in south Fargo.

“It is so these kids can spend time away from needles and doctors,” Matt Cullen said. “It is so they can have fun, watch movies and play video games. It allowed us to have a long impact on the area.”

The money will go toward building a 3,000-square-foot Cully’s Kids Area.

The hockey-themed facility will have therapeutic and educational environments staffed by professionals.

It will also feature play areas, an area for arts and crafts, culinary projects, a library, a learning area, a stadium theater and an interactive area.

Sanford Health will break ground on July 31 for its new 1.3 million-square-foot medical center south of Interstate 94 near Veterans Boulevard. It will be the largest non-industrial construction project in state history.

Sanford Medical Center president Dennis Millirons said during the announcement that three floors will be used for pediatrics and pre-natal health.

He said the Cullen Foundation’s room will be on the seventh floor.

“Matt and Bridget are so generous,” Millirons said. “The entire family, the members of the board have all been fabulous to work with. The Fargo area is truly blessed to have an interest in all of you.”

The announcement comes on Day 2 of the Cullen foundation’s big, three-day fundraising weekend headlined by a celebrity golf tournament.

NHL players such as Carolina Hurricanes star Eric Staal along with former Moorhead star Brian Lee were in attendance.

Cullen’s father, Terry Cullen, said Matt and Bridget’s close relationship with country music star Garth Brooks’ foundation helped spark their $1 million donation.

Terry Cullen said about this time last year the idea came up to build an area in the new hospital for children to use as an escape.

He said the Brooks Foundation has built eight facilities similar to the one the Cullens are gifting to Sanford.

The couple started the foundation in 2004 to provide health care to children with cancer.

In eight years, the foundation has raised more than $2 million for causes such as the Dakota Medical Foundation, HOPE Inc., the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Sanford Health.

“It’s just a little bit overwhelming when you think about it and we feel lucky to make a donation of this size to help out these kids,” Matt Cullen said. “Every year, you get to know these kids so it becomes close to your heart.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan S. Clark at (701) 241-5548.

Clark’s Force blog can be found at slightlychilled.areavoices.com


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