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3/5/2008 – News

Volume 125, Number 5            Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

Hannah Anderson continues recovery after accident
Hannah’s road to recovery BY MATT MULLALLY
The Pierce County Tribune Leeds sophomore Hannah Anderson sang the Star-Spangled Banner with the school’s banner girls group before the final boys’ basketball game there earlier this month.
It’s another milestone for this amazing 15-year-old.
Hannah, the daughter of Duane and Lisa Anderson, is on the road to recovery following a car accident last fall which left her critically injured. She’s the granddaughter of Virgil and Amy Anderson of Leeds and Monica Pfingsten of Sheldon and the late Orville Pfingsten.
"She’s our miracle,’ Lisa said. "To watch her enter the hospital on a stretcher and then see her walk out on her own is remarkable."
After 10 weeks of recovery and rehabilitation at medical centers in the Twin Cities following the Nov. 12 accident, Hannah is back home in familiar surroundings, attending school along with therapy.
"We came back home on January 25. It was a Friday afternoon, and then we went immediately over to the school. The hallways were filled with posters, and her classmates were waiting for her in the library,’ Lisa said. "It was quite emotional to see them."
Hannah has been in school for about a month now, although her schedule has been modified to account for the small breaks she needs to rest as well as attend therapy sessions.
"The therapists said that getting her home and back to school was important,’ Duane said. "School stimulates brain activity."
Hannah travels to Devils Lake three times a week, spending an hour at speech therapy, an hour in occupational therapy and an hour in physical therapy. She also receives therapy at school during the days she doesn’t travel to Devils Lake.
"With school and therapy, it becomes a long day,’ Lisa said. However, Hannah has been up to the challenge. Right now she’s working on her fine motor skills. The left side of her body was particularly affected by the accident, and being left-handed, Hannah has had to learn to write again. Therapists have been working with her to build her strength to use all the small muscles to perform such tasks as holding a pencil.
Hannah spends her free time being a typical teenager, attending her older brother Michael’s basketball games, watching movies and playing games.
"Actually, playing games was one of the things the doctors wanted her to do to continue to stimulate her brain activity,’ Lisa said.
So Hannah and Michael play a lot of board games as well as a Wii, an interactive video game, to strengthen her left arm.
In addition to the therapy, Hannah still will have regular clinical visits to monitor her progress. It’s too early to determine if she will have any permanent brain damage.
"We’ll go back to Minneapolis in August, right before school, for some tests and see how she is doing,’ Duane said. "That will be an important check-up."
Although her long-term memory was unaffected by the accident, Hannah’s short-term memory was. She doesn’t remember much that happened last fall, nor the Nov. 12 accident itself.
"The psychologist said the accident happened so fast she didn’t have time to take a mental picture of it,’ Lisa said. "That’s why she can’t remember it."
Nov. 12, 2007 accident Hannah was attempting to cross US Highway 2 on the east edge of Leeds on that day when the car she was driving was struck by a westbound pickup. Hannah and three friends in the vehicle were on their way to watch movies that afternoon at her grandmother’s house.
The teens were rushed by ambulance to Rugby’s Heart of America Medical Center. Hannah’s condition was serious, and she was transported by ambulance to Minot. The others in the vehicle were kept in Rugby for observation and later released.
She spent two days in Minot before being airlifted to the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis.
Hannah suffered a broken clavicle and fractured pelvis, but trauma to her brain was what doctors were most concerned with.
She was placed in a medically-induced coma and had ventilator tubes connected to help her breathing. Doctors monitored her closely.
"They just wanted her brain to rest,’ Duane said. "They wanted very little stimulation."
For Duane, Lisa and Michael it was difficult being by Hannah’s side every minute, holding her hand, talking to her, praying and holding out hope.
Eventually, those prayers were answered. Several days into her recovery, Hannah was able to lift her fingers on commands by a doctor. "I remember him (the doctor) saying her prognosis just took a huge step forward,’ Lisa said. "Everyone just stopped and cried."
After four weeks at Hennepin County Medical Center, Hannah was transported to the Gillette Children’s Specialty Health Care Center, where she began rigorous rehabilitation in the middle of December.
"It was sometime in December, and the physicians there said they were looking at discharging her in late January. We didn’t think there was any way she would be ready to come home,’ Duane said. "However, she did amazingly well through the therapy sessions."
First, Hannah had to tackle simple things like learning to make a blowing sound with her mouth to eventually learn to speak. Then she worked on standing up and having the balance to walk. A special boot cast was made to keep her balance as she learned to stand and walk under her own power. "I was able to walk pretty good with it,’ said Hannah in a soft-spoken voice.
Her voice is still raspy, and her parents have to remind her to speak louder. "I sometimes forget she didn’t speak for so long," Lisa said. "I was so happy to hear her voice again. That was my Christmas present."
During her two-plus months of hospitalization, Duane and Lisa stayed with their daughter, keeping a journal on the CaringBridge Web site so family and friends could keep track of Hannah’s rehab progress. To view the Web site, type in When the question box "Enter website name" comes up, type in hannahanderson.
Many family and friends wore buttons that said "Prayers for Hannah" to support the family during this ordeal.
Duane and Lisa also visited with other families who were there with children going through similar rehab programs. "We got to know a lot of people, and they were very supportive and encouraging,’ Duane said. "The doctors and nurses were just great to work with as well."
Back home, friends, family and the community stayed in close contact and prayed for Hannah’s recovery. During the first few weeks Duane and Lisa were there, friends harvested Duane’s remaining corn crop. Family and friends also looked in on Michael, who remained at home following the accident to continue with his schooling.
"The community has been just tremendous,’ Lisa said. "They’ve been so helpful and caring. Even since we came home we’ve had people call and stop over, asking if they can do anything for us, bring us a meal or offering to drive Hannah to Devils Lake for therapy. The school has also been supportive and understanding."
While her recovery has been promising, Hannah still can’t be left alone and must be careful not to bump her head.
The Andersons’ life is settling back into familiar routines. Duane and Lisa recently returned to work a few days a week. The family attends school events and church. "It’s good to be back home,’ Lisa said. Each day, another piece of the recovery puzzle falls into place.
"We’re just so thankful for how she’s doing and thankful to have such a caring community,’ Lisa said. "We’re very blessed."
This article originally appeared in The Pierce County Tribune at Rugby and is reprinted here with permission.

When Hannah Anderson returned to the Leeds School January 25 after a 2-1/2 month absence due to serious injuries sustained in an auto accident, her classmates and friends were there to welcome her home. Hannah was in a wheelchair, but she doesn’t need that now.

Hannah Anderson continues to make a miraculous recovery from her auto accident in November. Her family is behind her on the couch. Left to right are father Duane Anderson, brother Michael Anderson and mother Lisa Anderson.

Fffishtival fish
A sizeable crowd turned out for the Minnewaukan Fffishtival on Saturday, March 1. Shown are the winning fish in the fishing contest. In the northern pike division, Dennis Thompson took first place with an 8.46 lb. northern, Ethan Wang took second with a 5.36 lb. fish and Jack Sahraven took third with a fish weighing 3.88 lbs. In the walleye division, Kyle Clifton took first place with a 3.18 lb. fish, Walt Priest took second with a 2.54 lb. fish and Nate Teigen took third with a walleye weighing 1.84 lbs.

Visit DL Journal
The second, fourth and sixth grade classrooms of the Leeds Elementary School went on a field trip to the Devils Lake Journal. The students toured several areas: advertising, composing, the camera room, the darkroom and the editor’s office. Shown in the editor’s office are, left to right, Brandy Blegen, Dani Schwanke, Nikarra Nelsen, Carley Baker, Arnikka Thompson and Katelyn Nelsen.

Left to right at the Devils Lake Journal are Jaysten Albrecht, Lane Ritterman, Garrett Johnson, Joe Silliman, Devin Schwanke and Clay Kitzman.

Lions take second
The seniors on the Minnewaukan-Leeds Lions basketball team accepted the plaque for District 8 runner-up February 25 in Langdon. Left to right are Mike Anderson, Shawn Swanson, Brendan Tarang (#3), Reid Haagenson, Chris Tofsrud (#10), John Lunde and Daniel Harkness (#15).
All tournament photos are courtesy of Donna Grann.

Three members of the Minnewaukan-Leeds boys’ basketball team were named to the District 8 all-district team. Left to right are Steve Hausmann, Reid Haagenson and John Lunde. Haagenson was also named District 8 Senior Athlete of the Year.

Coaching honors
On the left is Ron Carlson, head boys’ basketball coach for Minnewaukan-Leeds. He earned the District 8 Coach of the Year distinction for the 2007-08 season and is shown accepting the plaque from an unidentified tournament official.

Attend FB conference
North Dakota Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee held its annual Leadership Conference January 25-27 at the Holiday Inn in Bismarck. Jared and Jennifer Benson and their boys and Jim Engstrom attended from Benson County. The conference brings together young farmers and ranchers from throughout the state to share knowledge on ag trends, for educational seminars and family activities. Left to right are Chris Brossart, Jeff Duchscher, Jennie Brossart, Jared and Jennifer Benson, Travis Westlind, Richard Knoke holding his daughter Madison, Sue Ann Locker, Sandra Knoke and Jim Engstrom of Leeds, District 4 director. In the front row are Chase and Tate Benson and Wyatt Knoke. To see highlights from the conference, go to the NDFB Young Farmer and Rancher news page at

Warwick students learn about bullying
In January the Climb Theater of Minneapolis, Minn. visited the Warwick School and presented lessons on bullying prevention to grades K-12.
The message was clear and children learned they can stand up for themselves and bullying is not OK. Warwick School counselor Cherry Heinz and school social worker Lori Kosmatka, created follow-up mini lessons for the students. They sent letters to parents telling of signs to watch for that would indicate their child was a victim.
Among signs are disheveled or torn clothing, missing or damaged books or possessions, bruises, cuts or other injuries; regularly losing possessions or toys in school or asking for extra supplies or lunch money; feigning illness, suddenly becoming reluctant to go to school or suffering bouts of fear.
The elementary classes also created large hall posters expressing their ideas about bullying.

Shown in the background are two of the hall posters on bullying created by the kindergarten and sixth grade classes at the Warwick School. Left to right are Sydney Tollefson, Elisha Baker, Mary Jane Cavanaugh, Mallory DeMarce, Mrs. Cherry Heinz, Kansas Cavanaugh, Isaiah Strouse, Chadd Keo, Kory Georgeson and Mrs. Lori Kosmatka.

Mathcounts contest
The Benson County Mathcounts competition for seventh and eighth graders was held February 21 at the Benson County Courthouse under the direction of Jean Olson, Benson County Superintendent of Schools. The scores of the first and second place teams, along with the scores of the top eight individuals not on the top teams will be entered in Region 2 competition, composed of Benson, Cavalier, Eddy, Nelson, Ramsey and Towner Counties. The highest scorers in Region 2 will go on to the state competition in Bismarck March 10.

Benson County champions are Breana Buehler, left, eighth grader from Maddock and Kendra Leibfried, eighth grader from Leeds. Not pictured is third place winner, Eddy Akalan, seventh grader from Warwick.

In the front row are Breana Buehler, eighth grader from Maddock, first place and Kendra Leibfried, eighth grader from Leeds, second place. Left to right, back row: Marcus Peltier, eighth grader from Four Winds, fourth place; Matthew Aabrekke, eighth grader from Maddock, fifth place; and Brady Stoll, seventh grader from Leeds, sixth place. Not pictured is Eddy Akalan, seventh grader from Warwick, third place.

The Maddock team took first place. Left to right, front row, are Karl Kenner and Breana Buehler. Back row: coach Jeff Jacobson, Kristen Smith and Matthew Aabrekke. All are eighth graders.

The Leeds team took second place. In front are Kendra Leibfried, eighth grade and Kevin Slaubaugh, seventh grade. Back row: Chelsi Olson and Brady Stoll, seventh graders and coach April Anderson.

The Minnewaukan team took third place. In front are coach Ryan Hanson and Jordan Every and Chelsea Rallo, seventh graders. Back row: Alisa Greywater, eighth grade (alternate); Nevada Feather, seventh grader; and Errin Ambers, eighth grader.

The Warwick team took fourth place. In front are Sindy Volk, Brionna Greene and Traci Owlboy, all seventh graders. In back are seventh grader Eddy Akalan and coach Richard Young.

The Four Winds team took fifth place. In front are eighth grader Latisha Longie and seventh grader Danacia Graywater. In back are Marcus Peltier and Jared DeMarce, both eight graders, and coach Mike Babinski.

Fffishtival scenes
The big tent provided shelter for those who came out to eat hamburgers and hotdogs at the Minnewaukan Fffishtival March 1. The Minnewaukan Library also sold donuts, hot cider, coffee and caramel corn. The drawings were also held inside. The tent is approximately 16’x36′.

Karyn Neve cooked the hamburgers and hotdogs on two grills near the big tent. The straw bales provided a respite from the chilly wind that day.

Paintball shooting was part of the entertainment. Here two girls try their hand at the sport.

Four targets were backed up against a pile of snow for the paintball participants to shoot at.

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