Gillette Children's celebrates 120th birthday

There was a big party in St. Paul Tuesday, as Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare celebrated its 120th anniversary. 

The hospital invited current and former patients for a big birthday party with pizza, cake, mascots and games. 

Angel Hackett and her five-year-old daughter Celeste took a break from treatment for the party. 

“Today has been probably the best day we've had at Gillette ever, I think in the history of the world, right?" said Hackett. "We actually mostly have always gotten bad news here so that's been really tough. A lot of hard work, a lot of therapy. A lot of things that we have to work towards."

Celeste has cerebral palsy and had spinal cord surgery the day before Thanksgiving.

“This is actually the first time I've ever seen Celeste able to flex her foot," said Hackett. "So that was a first ever in her life, so that was really exciting. And we're going to be celebrating Christmas and New Year's and her relearning how to crawl and walk, ride a bike."

Five-year-old Lorelei Godel has been a patient at Gillette Children’s since before her birth. She was born with bilateral clubbed feet and is getting ready for another surgery next year. 

“She was a little confused why we were coming here today, and I told her it was the hospital's birthday and we were going to come have a birthday party,” said Lorelei’s mother, Tina. “I wanted her to know that it's not always appointments and being poked and prodded, and X-rays and surgeries. That it's for fun too.”  

Gillette welcomed its first patient in the fall of 1897 when Dr. Arthur Gillette treated a 10-year-old boy from Pine City for a severe spine condition. 

“We want to keep our patients at the center," said Nick Hanson with Gillette Children’s. "We want to be patient focused, family focused, family centered, for the next 120 years hopefully too. But we just feel so lucky to have the kids and parents that we have."

A hundred years ago, in 1917, 426 children were admitted to Gillette Children’s. Now, the hospital treats more than 25,000 patients a year.