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Jefferson Awards: Turning Personal Loss Into Powerful Force

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Matt and Dana Croghan, Jefferson Awards,

Dana and Matt Croghan. (CBS)

OAKLAND (CBS 5) – The music of a Super Mario video game drifts through the rooms of the Pediatric Oncology unit at Kaiser Hospital in Oakland. It’s a welcome sound to parents Matt and Dana Croghan, who are all too familiar with what it’s like for young patients here.

“It takes away that boredom that kids can get sitting in hospital beds for days, weeks, months,” Dana Croghan said.

The Croghans practically lived at this hospital when their 13-year-old daughter, Korrine, was diagnosed with cancer four years ago. Her doctor, Steven Bergstrom, said through it all, Korrine kept positive — and focused on others.

“Korrine was the kind of kid that understood what other people were going though,” Bergstrom explained. “(She) had a tremendous amount of empathy for them.”

After a 10-month battle, Korrine lost her fight, but her parents, friends, and family — who called themselves “Team KC” — have taken on her dream to improve the quality of life of pediatric patients and their families. Bringing in the video game system on wheels was just the beginning.

For three years now, Team KC has put on an annual swim-athon, blood drive, and a picnic for hospital staff and patients. With the money raised they’ve purchased computers, holiday presents, and gift cards.

“It’s the little things that matter, like a gift card for coffee in the morning for a mom who’s been up all night sleeping on a tiny sleeping chair,” said Dana Croghan.

But Korrine’s biggest dream was to build “Team KC House,” nearby home-away-from-home for patients’ families.

Dr. Bergstrom said, “A lot of these families have long commutes coming back and forth and they want to be here, they want to be with their children.”

“Team KC house is something we always talked about in the hospital with Korrine,” Matt Croghan added.

Kaiser has offered land near their new hospital site, and the Croghans have started fundraising to build, and to fulfill a young girl’s dream.

“It’s all from our love of Korrine,” Dana Croghan said. “It’s enabled us to continue loving other kids and continue parenting in some way by knowing we are making these kids happy.”

“You can’t just live this and walk away,” Matt Croghan explained.

Visit Team KC Facebook Page

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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