Plymouth family throws a holiday party in the true giving spirit

The Hoglund’s raise money for LLS with a seasonal bash for their neighborhood

While many this time of year are hosting annual holiday parties in accordance to longtime tradition, one Plymouth family has added a charitable twist to its seasonal celebration.

On Dec. 8, the Hoglund’s of northwestern Plymouth invited all from their neighborhood of 200 homes at Lake Camelot Estates for a community event with a cause – to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Minnesota.

Plymouth Mayor Kelli Slavik joined the holiday party Dec. 8 at the Hoglund’s home in Plymouth. (Submitted photo)

LLS is the largest voluntary nonprofit health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research and providing education and patient services.

Rae Hoglund’s involvement with fundraising for LLS can be traced to an especially trying time in her family life. Within the span of a few years, Rae lost her mother, her father and her brother.

Rae’s brother had survived Leukemia, but passed away in 2009 from unrelated causes. Shortly after his death, Rae received a promotional card from LLS – her family’s journey to raise more than $25,000 had begun.

“There wasn’t even a thought process,” she said. “Sometimes, in your life, you have these moments where you just know something is the right thing to do.”

Rae had long been an avid bicyclist and frequently considered making a trip to ride the Lake Tahoe area of California. Prior to her brother’s death, she received an initial card from LLS in the mail, which promoted Team in Training – a branch of LLS that assists fundraising and training for endurance sports events.

The card described a 100-mile bike ride around Lake Tahoe, a dream trip for Rae. However, the timing wasn’t right.

Five years later, following the loss of three family members, the second postcard from LLS wrote the introduction to the next chapter of the Hoglunds’ lives.

Rae discovered that, in order to participate in the ride, those hoping to register were required to raise more than $4,300 in donations. She had very little experience with fundraising.

Though she said she was skeptical of her ability to raise the amount, she asked her daughters – Chelsea and Shelby – to join the cause as well. The Hoglund’s now needed to raise $12,900 before the Team in Training ride at Lake Tahoe.

Though the amount was intimidating, the Hoglund’s jumped right in.

“When you have a lot of loss, nothing is scary anymore,” Rae said. “You’ve already done the hardest things you’ve ever had to do. That’s where the courage comes form.”

Through reaching out to friends and family, hosting online auctions, organizing garages sales and asking whenever they could, the Hoglund’s surpassed the required amount and raised more than $15,000.

From left: Chelsea, Rae and Shelby Hoglund participated in a 100-mile Team in Training bike ride around Lake Tahoe to benefit LLS. (Submitted photo)

Quite a feat, but they weren’t done.

Following their first Team in Training in 2010, the Hoglund’s returned in 2012 – bringing the total amount of funds raised to more than $25,000.

“It was a way to take back our power and do something instead of being a victim of life’s circumstances,” Rae said.

And on Dec. 8, the Hoglund’s continued their newfound passion.

At the holiday party, money was raised through a silent auction, a raffle, the sale of Christmas gifts and crafts and personal donations.

Olive Garden and neighbors donated dinner, Princeton Liquors of Maple Grove provided a wine-tasting, Caribou Coffee donated coffee and Planet Beach hosted free spray tanning. Plymouth Mayor Kelli Slavik was guest of honor.

“I figure, you can have a holiday party and sit around in uncomfortable silence, or you can make it a lot of fun,” Rae said.

The funds raised by the party will be used for Rae’s next Team in Training event, though she hasn’t completely decided which one – she said she’s looking at either a marathon in Dublin, Ireland, or a cross country event held locally.

Whichever she chooses, Rae said she has a significant long-term goal for herself; to raise a total of $50,000 for LLS.

“I wasn’t even sure if I could do any of this, it’s really been a labor of love,” she said. “If you just ask, you will receive, it’s so true. If somebody wants to do something, they can.”

Those interested in helping Rae’s goal in supporting LLS can visit her donation page at Those who donate will be able to add to Rae’s credit toward her next Team in Training event – all proceeds directly benefit LLS. For more information on LLS, visit

After she achieves her goal, Rae said she would consider fundraising for other organizations as well.

There’s no telling how much money the Hoglund’s will be able to raise in the future, but it is evident that their work will have a positive impact on countless people. And it all began with a postcard.

“That’s the beauty of just putting that one foot forward, and look at all the stuff that happens afterwards,” Rae said. “The whole experience for me, from when I got the card in the mail, it’s brought such satisfaction and loving, wonderful people into my life. I can’t describe what that really means. You have to just go for it and do it.”


Contact Brian Rosemeyer at [email protected]