On Wednesday, January 24th Culver’s hosted a fundraiser for freshman Natalie Labelle, who has been approved by Mayo Clinic to receive a new heart. Natalie has Hypertrophic Obstructive Cardiomyopathy (HCOM) and has had four open heart surgeries for valve replacements in her lifetime. Wednesday, friends and community members piled into Culver’s to show their support for her and her family. The fundraiser went from 4 to 7 PM, and even as the crowd died down the average wait time for food was around twenty minutes because of the large amount of orders. This fundraiser will help her family to afford both Natalie’s surgery and the cost of moving to the Mayo area for three months for frequent follow up care.
“She is so sweet,” said Makayla Rademacher ‘25, LaBelle’s close friend and — according to Makayla — surrogate sister. “I loved being in a class with her and just learning more about her.” When the fundraiser was scheduled, Rademacher was sure to spread the word. “I have been telling all my friends to come, the whole music department told everyone about the fundraiser.”
Labelle said she “felt excited” when she found out that Culver’s would host this fundraiser. As she spoke from her seat of honor, a corner table decorated with heart balloons, she smiled from ear to ear. According to Natalie, many of her friends were able to make the trip out to support her.
Not everyone at the fundraiser knew Labelle personally. “I like to support everyone,” shared Margaret Greenhagen ‘24, “It’s easy. I get food and she gets money. It’s a win win.” Greenhagen also added that she would love to get to know Labelle more as well. Jacob Bull ‘25 shared this sentiment. “It’s a very big heart condition, and I know it would mean a lot,” he said.
Events like this one make the upcoming surgery feel more and more real. “She’s been very nervous,” Rademacher mentioned, “but also excited that she has the ability to get a new heart and to be able to do the things that have been limiting her.” What she’s been looking forward to the most? “[Being able] to go to Sky Zone!” Labelle exclaimed.
For more information or to donate visit: http://nataliesheart.com/.