Even small gifts change lives

Pay It Forward

Pay It Forward Helps West Fargo Woman Diagnosed with Rare Cancer

Several Bell Bank employees pooled their Pay It Forward funds to help a West Fargo woman diagnosed with a rare form of cancer keep life as normal as possible for her young boys.

“Donating my Pay It Forward funds to Kristi Engelstad was an easy choice. She is very active in the community, has helped others with fundraising events and includes her boys in volunteering so she can teach them about giving back and being kind to others. I’m grateful that we were able to contribute to her benefit and help ease her financial burden. Kristi has remained positive throughout her ordeal and has been an inspiration to many.” – Kelly Larson, loan operations, Fargo headquarters

Photos courtesy of Jeanie Haaland, h4 photography.


Kristi Engelstad, West Fargo

The Need

On a Saturday in February, Kristi Engelstad went to the emergency room with severe abdominal pain.

After emergency surgery to remove an ovarian cyst that had burst and another surgery to remove two large kidney stones, Kristi found out she had a rare form of ovarian cancer. She had a complete hysterectomy at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., followed by six months of chemotherapy.

Kristi maintained a positive outlook throughout the grueling ordeal, even smiling as she prepared to receive her treatments.

Since the cancer has a high reoccurrence rate, she will likely need close follow-up care at Mayo Clinic for the rest of her life.

The Impact

Friends and family held a benefit for Kristi in June to help with current and future medical expenses. That’s where Kelly Larson gave Kristi the check from Bell.

“When I was first diagnosed, I made two goals: 1. To beat this and 2. To keep life as normal as possible for my boys,” Kristi says. “Because of the donations, I won’t have to worry about juggling medical bills, and I will be able to relax and snuggle with my boys at home on the days that I am too tired or sick to work. It made a HUGE difference to us, and I am so appreciative.”

Kristi, who has worked for F-M Ambulance for more than 15 years, also volunteers at Lutheran Church of the Cross, the Ronald McDonald House and with the Lake Agassiz Kiwanis Club.

“I am hopeful that I can repay some of the kindness that was given to me by giving support to others who may find themselves affected by cancer or another serious medical condition, and also by teaching my boys about kindness and giving in hopes that they will do the same as they grow older,” Kristi says.

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