In GF, 'Smile Wide Day' honors Ali BorgenToday is “Smile Wide Day” in Grand Forks in honor of Ali Borgen, the spirited 14-year-old girl who fought against leukemia until her death on Jan. 24. Today would have been her 15th birthday.
By: Chuck Haga, Grand Forks Herald
Today is “Smile Wide Day” in Grand Forks in honor of Ali Borgen, the spirited 14-year-old girl who fought against leukemia until her death on Jan. 24.
Today would have been her 15th birthday.
In his state of the city address in February, Mayor Michael Brown promised Ali and her family that Sept. 5 would be Ali’s day “in perpetuity,” and the Grand Forks City Council is expected to make the formal declaration at its meeting Tuesday night.
The council also is expected to declare September “childhood cancer awareness month” in the city.
Ali’s struggle against the disease captured the concern and admiration of people in her community and beyond, and a “celebration of a lifetime” she attended shortly before her death drew more than 1,000 people and raised more than $14,000 for the broader fight against childhood cancer.
Ali lived her personal motto of “smile wide every day” despite enduring terrible pain from vertebrae fractures that twisted her spine and forced her to spend many months inside a “turtle shell” back brace. She lived much of her last two years at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
On a CarePages site called WeLoveAliB, which Karen Borgen used to chronicle her daughter’s long struggle and keep an ever-growing army of friends informed, Borgen posted a new message today.
“Today — what would have been Ali’s 15th birthday — is Smile Wide Day in Grand Forks,” she wrote.
“I hope you will hug your loved ones, that you will share your smile. I know that I will hug my loved ones, that I will smile as I remember sweet Ali, that I will cry as I long for my daughter who was born 15 years ago today. She should be here. Instead, she is in heaven, and we are here without her. We are somehow going to make it through today.”
She asked people who had followed Ali’s story to share a memory with the family, “something she taught you, anything.”
Karen Borgen included with the post a favorite picture of Ali.
“She was 3 years old,” she wrote. “She was sweaty and dirty, had a Kool-Aid mustache and ketchup on her cheeks. She was playing with Dylan (her brother) and our puppies that were tackling them and pulling on her hair. She was so happy. And so were we.”
Reach Haga at (701) 780-1102; (800) 477-6572, ext. 102; or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.