Vanessa Miller’s family has invited the public to join their family and friends at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning to shop for Children’s Minnesota Hospitals at the Blaine Target. The hospital has provided the family with a list of needed items. Trucks will be on hand in the Target parking lot to deliver the items to the hospital.

BLAINE, MN -- On Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022, hundreds of people will be taking over the Blaine Target at 1500 109th Ave NE, Blaine, MN 55449 to purchase donations for Children’s Hospital in memory of Vanessa Grace Miller, 12, of Blaine, who suddenly died Monday morning.

Vanessa was born with hydrocephalus, a condition where excess fluid builds up in the brain, and faced an uphill battle her entire life that she tackled with strength, laughter and joy

Every day Vanessa, a beloved student at Park Terrace in Spring Lake Park, would ask if her family could take her to Target. While she was there, she was always super excited and wanted her mother to buy her cookies and an oat milk from Starbucks. Employees at Target greeted her by name on these trips.

After Vanessa’s death Monday, as her grief-stricken family tried to imagine even one day without her, they remembered her love of Target. Her mother, Debra Miller, said, “How am I ever going to go to Target again.”

Her husband, and Vanessa’s father, Patrick Miller, said, “You’re not going to walk in there alone. We are going to come with you. Hundreds of us.”

This phrase sparked the idea for a way to honor Vanessa and help other families who must spend time at the hospital. After dozens of surgeries and extended stays, the Miller family knows what a difference it makes for children and families to receive a small toy, puzzle, snacks, or even a needed phone charger.

“We have spent a significant time at the hospital and to be able to provide a small distraction to family’s going through something so terrible and so hard helps the children. It breaks up the day when someone pops in and drops something off for you,” Debra Miller said. “We know what it’s like and it hurts and it’s scary. Vanessa spread so much joy and I know if she could have made it easier for someone else, she totally would.”

Last Update: Feb 24, 2022 2:54 pm CST

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