7Everyday Hero Madelene Kleinhans helps siblings of kids with critical illnesses with Heartfelt Hugs

Broomfield Teen starts her own non-profit
Posted at 8:09 AM, Aug 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-22 10:09:18-04
When a family member faces a life threatening illness all of the focus is on the one who is sick. But 7Everyday Hero Madelene Kleinhans focuses on a member of the family who is often overlooked. 
When she was just 12 years old she started a non-profit called Heartfelt Hugs. 
"It is a support group for siblings of kids with critical illnesses," said Kleinhans. 
Because sometimes siblings of children facing serious illnesses feel left out.
Madelene would know.  Her younger brother, Addison was diagnosed with leukemia several years ago. That meant big changes for everyone in the family. 
"I couldn't have birthday parties, or go out with my friends to the movies, or anything, because there was always that risk of germs getting to my brother," said Kleinhans. 
Heartfelt Hugs holds bi-monthly fun outings for siblings. The group cleans everything before the event and charge nothing. 
"I hope they experience joy, and feel happy, and meet new friends in the same situation, and they have as much fun as they can have on that one day," said Kleinhans. 
"A lot of families in this situation feel isolated because they are the only ones in their school or community that are going through a difficult time," said volunteer Brian Lichtenheld.
And the parents benefit, too. 
"They also need some guilt-free time with their child who is sick," said Paula DuPre' Pesmen, Exec. Dir., There With Care. 
Kleinhans' efforts have worked so well, she partners with another non-profit called There With Care. It is a successful support group for families and children facing critical illness.  
"We provide baby-sitting, mentoring, and activity bags for siblings, and then Madelene gives them activities where they can be together with each other," said DuPre' Pesmen. 
DuPre' Pesmen and others are impressed with Kleinhans' maturity and focus at the ripe ole age of 14. 
"She has initiative and drive that is really rare for someone of her age," said Lichtenheld. 
"Just doing something that helps the community and changes it, makes me feel complete as a person because I want to be able to help other people and I want to make a difference in the world," said Kleinhans.
To learn more about Heartfelt Hugs go to Or find the group on Facebook.
Mitch Jelniker anchors Denver7 in the mornings from 4:30 to 7 a.m. He also features a different 7Everyday Hero each week on 7NEWS. Follow Mitch on Facebook and Twitter. Nominate a 7Everyday Hero here.