Weather Forecast


A tribute lighter than air

Gracie Norlin's former preschool classmates prepare to release balloons in her honor June 3. Norlin, who recently finished kindergarten at Riverview Elementary School, underwent surgery that day to remove a tumor. Below: Students cheer "We love Gracie" as their balloons float away.

While Gracie Norlin was having surgery to remove a tumor from her kidney June 3, her former pre-school classmates were sending their good wishes into the air borne by colorful balloons.

Gracie went to the doctor May 28 because she'd been running a fever and strep throat had been running through Riverview Elementary School, where she recently finished kindergarten. A test for strep came back positive, but the examination also turned up evidence of a mass on her left kidney. It turned out to be a Wilms tumor, a rare form of cancer. Later CAT scans and x-rays showed spots on her lungs and enlarged lymph nodes.

So, last Thursday, the day after her kindergarten graduation, Gracie was in surgery.

Her former classmates at Rosemount's Bridges pre-school showed their support with a lighter-than-air tribute. Dawn Hauswirth, one of the teachers at the school, is also Gracie's neighbor. She showed up for work Thursday with a car full of pink and purple balloons -- Gracie's favorite colors -- and the school's students released them just before 3 p.m., jumping and cheering and chanting "We love Gracie" as they rose into the sky.

According to a CaringBridge site set up for Gracie last week's surgery went well. By June 6 she was sitting up in bed and coloring and venturing out of her hospital room.

Her treatment is not finished, though. Abdominal fluid removed during surgery showed evidence of malignant cells and she will have to undergo abdominal radiation. She will receive radiation treatment every day for two weeks and then one day a week for six weeks after that.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

(651) 460-6606