Even small gifts change lives

Pay It Forward

MNUFC & Bell Team Up to Support 5-Year-Old Victim of Senseless Attack

What started as a simple trip to the mall became the beginning of a long journey to recovery for one 5-year-old boy. When Bell’s partner, Minnesota United FC, caught word of the news, the two united for good.

“Hearing how our decision to support Landen sparked Bell Bank employees to raise over $12,000 is an incredible example of how powerful it is when people unite to support a worthy cause.” – Ragan Duax, MNUFC community relations manager

Bell Employees

Wendy Jensen, personal banking officer

Minneapolis


Recipient

Landen and family


The Need

After hearing the horrific news of a 5-year-old ripped from his mother and thrown from a third-story balcony, Wendy Jensen couldn’t stop checking social media to see if the boy had survived.

“It actually sort of consumed me,” says Minneapolis personal banking officer Wendy Jensen. “I have a son who’s 5 years old, so it really hit close to home. I felt so much pain for Landen and his family and feared that something like that could happen to my child.”

On April 12, 2019, Landen became the victim of a senseless attack, as a stranger hurled his body nearly 40 feet from the Mall of America’s third floor in Bloomington, Minn. That night, people around the country tuned in to hear about the boy who had miraculously survived despite life-threatening injuries, including two broken arms, a broken leg and fractures to his face and skull.

In the days that followed, the Twin Cities community rallied together to support the family as the child fought for his life in the ICU.


The Impact

After hearing Landen’s story, Minnesota United FC – the Twin Cities’ professional soccer team – knew they wanted to help.

“No one wants to hear that an incident like this could happen in our community, and the fact that it was a 5-year-old child made it even harder to comprehend,” says Ragan Duax, MNUFC community relations manager. “Reading how much Landen enjoyed playing soccer made the urge to support his cause even stronger. Our incredible partnership with Bell Bank gave us the opportunity to do something in his honor.”

As a MNUFC partner, Bell sponsors the Man of the Match each game, donating $1,000 to the awarded player to pay it forward to their chosen cause. But following Landen’s news, MNUFC’s leadership proposed donating the next game’s Man of the Match funds to support him.

“All of our players agreed that no matter who won Man of the Match, those proceeds would benefit Landen,” Ragan says.

When Bell learned what their partner was doing, it sparked another flame. A dozen employees raised an additional $12,600 by pooling their Pay It Forward funds for Landen.

“I had already contributed my own money to his GoFundMe page, so I was super-happy to hear I could donate my Pay It Forward dollars. I wanted his mom to be by his side every chance she could and not have to worry about money,” Wendy says. “No little child should ever have to go through something like this. Knowing that I could help in any way made me feel better. I want him to have as much of a normal life as he can. He is a little boy who deserves that.”

After nearly four months in the ICU, Landen was moved to inpatient physical rehab, and finally to outpatient rehab at home as he continues to heal and focus on the next phase of his recovery.

“We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of so many, including the wonderful employees at Bell Bank and Minnesota United FC, for donating to the GoFundMe account for our family,” says Landen’s family in a statement. “The kindness, prayers and generosity shown to us throughout this entire journey have been overwhelming and provides us with hope and strength.”

Through the Pay It Forward program, Bell Bank gives employees money each year to donate to people and causes they care about.

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