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Best Christmas Ever: Rural Pequot Lakes family dealing with brain cancer treatments is showered with gifts

Lisa Hanson said she had been watching the Best Christmas Ever efforts on Facebook without realizing they were raising donations for her.

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Matt and Lisa Hanson watch as their children, Cooper and Claire open a brand new ice fishing shelter given to them by the Best Christmas Ever program on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021. Travis Grimler / Echo Journal
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Friends, family and neighbors surprised the Hanson family Saturday morning, Dec. 18, in their cozy home while the mother of the house, Lisa, was doing laundry.

Son Cooper and daughter Claire saw vehicles pull into the yard and were the first to greet the visitors before running inside to get Lisa and their dad, Matt.

The visitors were a crew representing the Best Christmas Ever program and they showed up to shower the family with gifts for the holiday. Minnesota Traders Co. in Pequot Lakes sponsored the Hanson family.

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Ironically, Lisa had been watching and "liking" Facebook fundraising efforts to raise money specifically for this cause, but never realized she and her family were the ones to be helped.

"I read about it on Facebook on the Woods to Water Real Estate Facebook page and Minnesota Traders," Lisa said.


" We are extremely blessed and overwhelmed and excited. This community is amazing for so many reasons. I'm a little bit speechless but just really grateful and thankful."

— Lisa Hanson.


The woman who nominated the family said she laughed a little every time she saw them react to the Facebook posts.

The Best Christmas Ever program gives assistance to families who encounter hardship in what is supposed to be the happiest time of the year. Sometimes that hardship can be in the form of loss of a home to fire or loss of a family member or job. Last year, the program helped a rural Pine River family who had taken in several foster children.

As for the Hanson family, Lisa was diagnosed with cancer earlier in the year.

"I was in for a craniotomy brain survey at the end of August and was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma and started the process of brain radiation and immunotherapy treatment," Lisa said. "I had another couple symptoms and issues and ended up with another brain tumor removal surgery.

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"Right now I'm about three weeks into that process and looking at some more treatments, more radiation, but feeling really positive. It's going along the way it should and we have a great team of doctors in our corner and huge support system clearly happening all around us with family, friends and community," she said.

Lisa is currently recovering from a surgery, feeling energetic and being proactive about treatment. But treatment is expensive, so the Best Christmas Ever program stepped in to bolster the family's Christmas cheer. There were many gifts tailored specifically to the family.

Knowing husband Matt and son Cooper's love of fishing, one gift included a new folding ice fishing shelter, tickets to the Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza and an offer by The Getaway, a neighboring vacation rental, to take the whole family on a ride in a winter all-terrain vehicle equipped to drive anywhere, including open water.

The family was overwhelmed.

"We are extremely blessed and overwhelmed and excited," Lisa said. "This community is amazing for so many reasons. I'm a little bit speechless but just really grateful and thankful."

The family also received a donation of $4,500 to help defray expenses.

Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or travis.grimler@pineandlakes.com.

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Lisa Hanson was surprised and overwhelmed when the Best Christmas Ever crew showed up at her home Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021 to help make the season more merry after a rough year. Travis Grimler / Echo Journal

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Lisa Hanson was surprised and overwhelmed when the Best Christmas Ever crew showed up at her home Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021 to help make the season more merry after a rough year. Travis Grimler / Echo Journal

Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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