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Family walks for many reasons

Katie and Jake Bowling and their family join thousands of participants every year to attend Briggs & Al’s Run & Walk. And like many of the runners and walkers that will descend on downtown Milwaukee on September 16, their family’s story is deeply connected to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

When their first child, Jace, was at his 6-week appointment, Jace’s pediatrician detected an abnormal heart sound and Jace was immediately transported by ambulance to Children’s. Once there, parents Katie and Jake received news that their son had a congenital heart defect – there was a hole between the two chambers of his heart, creating abnormal blood flow. Jace had been losing weight because his heart was working so hard to keep his blood pumping properly throughout his body. 

At 2 months and one day old, Jace had heart surgery. Katie recalls, “he was so tiny and hooked up to lots of machines. I remember how the nurses talked us through every step. It still stands out in my mind how they helped us through that very scary time.” 

Jace spent 26 days in Children’s Cardiac Intensive Care Unit and 40 total days at Children’s. Jace went home and continued to grow and thrive with ongoing support from Children’s. 

A few years later, the Bowlings learned they were pregnant with their second child. But after the first ultrasound appointment, tests revealed a very rare chromosome abnormality. The family was referred to Children’s Fetal Concerns Center, where the care team delivered devastating news: their baby’s lungs may not be able to develop.

Katie and Jake’s baby girl, Joey, went to term and when she was born, she wasn’t breathing. Although she was stabilized in Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, doctors explained to the Bowlings that Joey did not have enough lung tissue to breathe on her own. The family had six and a half precious hours of time with Joey before she passed away. Katie remembers, “Everyone was so wonderful and caring with Joey, and with us, and with Jace.”

Today, the Bowling family honors Joey’s memory in a number of ways. Every year, they participate in Briggs & Al’s Run & Walk to walk for Jace and Joey and to support families facing similar challenges. They celebrate Joey’s life after the race with a birthday cake and a balloon release. And prior to the race, their team "Race with Jace" actively fundraises to support and give back to the many programs that the family relied on while they were at Children’s.

Briggs & Al’s Run & Walk is one of Children’s most important fundraising events, raising critical funds that allow us to help families like the Bowlings during their most difficult days. 

Register today to join us and celebrate 40 years of this inspiring event supporting kids and families throughout the state.


Free registration for current and former patients!

"Children’s Champions" are what we like to call all of our current and former patients here at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Briggs & Al’s Run & Walk is one special opportunity to celebrate our Children’s Champions while raising critical funds to support the care we provide. Your champion will receive free registration for the event. Register today and select the "Children’s Champion" participation type for your champ.

Not able to attend? You can still help.

Even if you are unable to attend, you can still show your support:

  • Make a donation on behalf of a participant or to the event in general.
  • Register as a virtual participant. Virtual participants can register, raise funds for the event and will also receive a 40th annual Briggs & Al’s Run & Walk t-shirt.