On May 7th, 2016, we honored the following families:

Julie Bauer


Julie Bauer has been teaching children in the Owatonna School District for over 35 years. She has taught special education, grades 1, 2, & 3 and most recently has been a reading interventionist at McKinley. This would have been her 36th year, but in mid-August 2015 a routine mammogram indicated a mass and further testing and biopsies revealed that she had Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. In September, Julie had a lumpectomy to remove the mass but the doctors found that all of her lymph nodes had cancer in them, so they removed them too. The doctors said that the tests revealed it was a stage 3A Breast Cancer. The oncology team from District One Cancer Center recommended Julie to have a second surgery, a bi-lateral mastectomy. Following these two surgeries she developed a severe wound infection in her chest wall that required hospitalization for five days followed by 21 days with a wound vac to help expedite the healing. This delayed her chemotherapy which finally began in early December. She in the process of having 16 chemotherapy treatments followed by radiation. Her prognosis is very good, but it has been quite a journey, full of highs and lows and many emotions.

She has found great strength through her faith, immediate, and extended family’s love and support through this journey. Her immediate family includes her husband Dan, her son Thomas, and wife Katie, and her daughter Elizabeth, and fiancée Taylor. Their family has been humbled by the response of their friends and the community.

Dan is the Director of Youth Ministry for the Owatonna Catholic parishes. The Bauers are active at Sacred Heart Church and are thankful for their faith community. The Bauer family is also grateful to the Owatonna School community, teachers, and staff for their care, concern, and helpfulness as they walk with them on this journey.

Royetta Spurgeon


Royetta Spurgeon was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (breast cancer) in December 2015. After intense testing and consultation with her team of medical professionals from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, she immediately began an aggressive 20-week chemotherapy progression. She will undergo a double mastectomy in June 2016, and will prepare for complete reconstruction shortly thereafter.

Royetta has been married to her husband, Mark Spurgeon, for 10 years and is a mom to two boys, Mark Jr. (9), and Hunter (8). In her free time, Royetta stays very busy keeping up with her children and their many activities, including: hockey, football, and soccer.

Royetta has been employed with Federated Insurance for nearly 10 years and enjoys spending her days planning, coordinating and managing Federated’s Certified Risk Manager sessions for customers and prospects alike. During the winter months, Royetta is a youth cheerleading coach for the Owatonna Youth Wrestling Association. She also spends time volunteering on the Washington Elementary PTO Board. Her husband, Mark is the Presidential Sales Rep for Steele County, Culligan. Royetta and her family enjoy being active members of Sacred Heart church.

Don Hettinga


Don Hettinga is currently battling his third type of cancer in four years. He was initially diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma 2012. After surgery and six rounds of chemotherapy he was declared cancer free. The following spring, he noticed a suspicious mole which his doctor had biopsied, it turned out to be melanoma. After two small surgeries to remove a portion of his upper left arm and several lymph nodes, doctors were confident they had gotten it all. Unfortunately, in February of 2015, a follow-up scan revealed a number of new masses, the melanoma had metastasized, and was spreading throughout his upper body. Don was given a newly FSDA approved immune therapy. His reaction was nothing short of miraculous. In only a few short months, the tumors were decimated. Then last fall, another scan revealed a new tumor on his lung. A biopsy showed that it was neither of the previous two types, but a third different type, small cell carcinoma. Don completed four, 3 day rounds of chemo, and thirty sessions of radiation in November and December of 2015. His most recent scan revealed that the treatment was a success and no new tumors were detected. As he continues with treatment, he is confident that the third time will be a charm in this battle.

Don has been a teacher at the Owatonna ALC for 13 years. He is the husband of Chris Hettinga, who teaches art at OJHS, and the father of two children, Ethan (13) who is an 8th grader at OJHS and Lauren (7) who is a 1st grader at McKinley. The whole family is incredibly grateful for all of the support they have received from the Owatonna community.


2016 Video

Contact Information:

From The Heart PO Box 853 Owatonna, MN 55060