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Spreading the magic

Four-year-old Tatum Mosley smiled excitedly as she unwrapped one of her Christmas gifts from the UND Fighting Sioux football team Saturday; a pair of sparkly, pink dress shoes.

Four-year-old Tatum Mosley smiled excitedly as she unwrapped one of her Christmas gifts from the UND Fighting Sioux football team Saturday; a pair of sparkly, pink dress shoes.

Eight members of the UND football team presented Christmas gifts Saturday morning to three children receiving treatment at Altru Hospital for its annual "Holiday magic from Markus." The team bought gifts for the children's siblings, too.

"Holiday Magic from Markus" is a project in memory of Markus Bryant, who died from cancer at age 14. The project has taken place annually since 2002, the year Markus died. Markus was a huge fan of the UND football team, and followed them to the National Championship in Alabama in 2001.

"He'd e-mail them words of encouragement even though he was so sick," said Sue Hafner, nurse practitioner at Altru. "He had such a profound effect on them that they wanted to do something for him. And he thought this was a great idea."

Altru picks three to five families, a total of eight children, each Christmas to receive gifts from the team. The members of the football team receive a wish list from each child. The team then goes out to buy as much as they can with the money they raised just for that purpose.


"The kids pretty much get what they want," Hafner said smiling. "We include gifts for the siblings so nobody feels left out."

Tai Mosley, 9, Sean Clementich, 7, and Alena Borgen, 11, brought their families to the pediatrics department at Altru Hospital on Saturday for the Christmas party with the players. Tai suffers from Chron's Disease and Sean and Alena both have forms of leukemia.

"The kids end up missing so much from treatments," said Karen Borgen, Alena Borgen's mom. "She's missed so much school and she even missed her Christmas concert."

Alena, affectionately called Ali by her friends and family, received the Nintendo DS and accompanying Nintendo DS games she wanted for Christmas.

"It was really fun shopping for these kids," said Marcus Tibesar, a UND football player. "We work to raise the money all year and go out to local businesses to buy the presents."

Local stores were happy to help the players with their shopping, even offering discounts and gift cards to help pay for the children's gifts.

"I was really amazed at how much the community was willing to help," he said.

Tucker Mosley, 6, walked around the pediatrics waiting room at Altru on Saturday, asking each player to sign the UND Fighting Sioux sweatshirt he was wearing. He skipped back over to his parents, boasting his autographed apparel.


Sean Clementich sat in his chair waiting patiently as the presents were passed out. "Wow!" he exclaimed as each of his presents was placed in his lap, making his stack of loot bigger by the box. His feet swung back and forth in the adult-sized chair, too short to touch the floor.

"I can't believe it!" he yelled as he opened his XBox 360.

"You have to share," his younger brother, Blair, 4, kindly reminded him.

Sean and his family travel to Altru from Devils Lake for his treatments. His younger siblings, Blair and Erin, are fraternal twins.

"Tatum, can these boys buy dresses or what?" Hafner asked Tatum Mosley after she opened the box containing her new dress, which will go perfectly with her new pink shoes.

The kids posed for pictures with the players and all the gifts after they were opened. Erin Clementich, 4, sat almost hidden behind a mountain of toys.

Tibesar was joined at Altru by teammates Nate Wayne, Matt Bakke, Joel Schwenzfeier, Steven Battle, Branden Dungy, Brandon Hellevang and Ryan Kasowski. All eight men sat with the kids and encouraged their excitement as the children unwrapped their gifts.

"Mom, check it out!" Sean said, jumping up to show his mom his new Xbox 360 controller.


"I can just hear them at home later saying, 'But the football team said we have to share,'" said a smiling Paul Clementich of his three giddy children, who sat on the floor in the middle of a pile of boxes, toys and wrapping paper.

Reach Gibson at (701) 787-6754 or lgibson@gfherald.com .

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