Local nonprofit ensures parents with cancer ‘have a nice day’

Have A Nice Day Foundation focuses on granting nice days for parents and their families

Natasha Kettleson of Plymouth founded Have A Nice Day in 2015 having seen a need for a wish foundation for young parents going through cancer treatment. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Kristen Miller)

Providing a fun, stress-free day to someone in the midst of a storm is the mission of the Plymouth-based nonprofit Have a Nice Day Foundation.
Founded in 2015 by Natasha Kettleson, the organization grants nice days or wishes to moms and dads who have a child 12 years or younger and are undergoing cancer treatment in the Twin Cities.

A similar concept to the Make A Wish Foundation, Kettleson wanted to create an organization devoted to granting parents’ wishes after witnessing many of her own friends diagnosed with cancer as young parents in their early 30s.

When a parent is diagnosed there is a lot of uncertainty, Kettleson explained. Oftentimes, it comes with a loss of wages and high medical bills, leaving no additional funds for families to a little fun together.

With these friends scattered around the country, Kettleson looked online for a similar organization that would grant wishes for terminally ill parents, but found none.
“Just seeing the stress they were going through,” Kettleson said. “Really I saw a need there in just being able to provide that worry-free day for moms and dads with cancer and their families to make special memories.”

Have A Nice Day can provide that day.

Since its origination, the foundation has granted nine parents and families a “nice day.”

Just last week, a husband and father of four with terminal stage IV colon cancer was granted his wish of being mayor for a day.

Having grown up in Minneapolis and being active in politics, David Weinlick wanted to show his children the importance of community and how city government works.

The latest “nice day” was granted to David Weinlick and his family, who wanted to experience being the mayor of Minneapolis for a day. He is pictured with his family and Mayor Betsy Hodges, who proclaimed May 4 as David Weinlick Day. (Submitted photo)

Mayor Betsy Hodges declared May 4 David Weinlick Day as he and his family toured Minneapolis City Hall, recognized city workers with JonnyPops, and visited Fire Station 14, which included sliding down the fire pole and riding in a fire truck.

The family also planted a tree in his honor as his childhood park, Mueller Park on Bryant Avenue, with various members of the city and community participating, including the fire chief.
“No matter what is going on in your life, take the time to get the good stuff and have a nice day even if you are not facing something like [cancer],” Weinlick said, adding that he couldn’t pick one particularly favorite part of his day. “It was a ton of fun, in general … the whole day was enjoyable.”

Like other nice days, Weinlick was nominated to receive a grant from Have A Nice Day through its online nomination process.

The volunteer-run organization then coordinates the day on behalf of the family, using monetary and in-kind donations, Kettleson explained. The organization will host its first fundraiser, “Girls Night Out,” Thursday, Nov. 2 at the Minnetonka Community Center.

It was also recently announced, Have A Nice Day Foundation was among the 97 local charities benefiting from the $530,000 raised from the latest Cities 97 Sampler CD.
Kettleson grew up in a family where volunteering and giving back “was really important,” adding her mom was an active volunteer at Children’s Hospital. “It was just a part of our life,” she said.

Having volunteered in various ways with children’s cancer organizations throughout the years, “This was my way of making an impact on moms and dads and children affected by their parent’s cancer,” Kettleson said.

As part of David Weinlick Day, Weinlick and his family planted a tree in his honor at a park on Bryant Avenue near where he grew up. (Submitted photo)

“You can’t imagine what these families are going through, so we want to give them a little bit of fun for a day,” she said.

As far as the name, Kettleson credits her daughter, an early talker, who at 18 months old kept telling everyone to “have a nice day.”

Wondering where her daughter got that phrase, Kettleson recognized she would say it to various people throughout the day, such as the grocery store clerk.
“These are just wonderful families,” Kettleson said. “We’re only one day, but we’re just so grateful to be there to look forward to and look favorably back on.”

To learn more about Have A Nice Day and to nominate a parent undergoing cancer treatment, visit handf.org.

Contact Kristen Miller at [email protected]