sponsored child with soccer ball

The Melody Behind the Annual Celebration

January 10, 2014 | Janie

Unfortunately, due to extreme weather conditions, the Annual Celebration was canceled. 

Melody assists with the Annual Celebration

Did you know that a special “melody” brings shape to the Our Response Annual Celebration each year? Melody LaBeau, that is! All corniness aside, this gifted and energetic leader has headed up this happy event since Our Response began in 2009. Scheduled for Sunday, January 26, 7–8:30 p.m., at the Cambridge-Isanti High School Performing Arts Center, our party will be a little different this time around. Typically, we look back on the previous 12 months and recall with joy the impact that the East Central Community is making in Kivuruga, Rwanda. I thought we would first get to know Melody a bit, and then let her share what will make this year’s Celebration unique.

Melody, tell us a little about yourself.

I was raised in the East Central area, the youngest of five, and graduated from Cambridge High School in 1981. I have worked at Medtronic, Inc. for 23 years doing Clinical Research in our Cardiac Division. Currently, I’m based out of our Santa Rosa, CA, office, but I am able to manage a team remotely from my home here in Isanti. I have been very fortunate to be a part of several strong leadership teams, which have richly contributed to my development as a leader over the years. One of the core tenets of the Medtronic Mission involves giving back to the community, which I have instilled in all the teams I have led. Each quarter my team spends a day volunteering at a local non-profit.

I recently returned from a trip to Guatemala with an organization called Hug it Forward. We helped build two bottle schools alongside members of the communities in Palo Blanco and El Refugio y La Rosa.

Melody Hugs It Forward

Bottle schools are made using “eco-bricks,” which are plastic pop or water bottles stuffed with paper trash until they are hard like bricks. The bricks are then strung between chicken wire and covered with cement to form the walls of the school.


I am also actively involved in a local camp for children with heart disease called Camp Odayin. It is such a joy to help make camp happen for children who otherwise would not be able to attend because of their heart disease.

One of my greatest passions in life is helping people see the greatness within themselves and walking alongside them as they discover the life they were purposed for. I recently became certified as a Life Coach, and I have enjoyed working with some amazing people as they have grasped the greatness in their lives.

My role at Medtronic has brought me all over the world and I have had the opportunity to travel to many countries in Asia, Europe and South America. It is fair to say that I have a passion for travel, and look forward to annual trips to Maui, Hawaii, where I spend quiet times on the beach and, of course, the golf course!

When did you become involved with Our Response and how did that happen?

I became involved with Our Response during its initial development while serving with Steve Fredlund on the staff of New Hope Community Church. It has been fun to watch the original vision play out, and to be a part of it as well.

Why is involvement with Our Response important to you and what does your involvement look like?

Working for an organization like Medtronic with such a strong emphasis on improving the lives of others, along with the spiritual gifts I have been blessed with, make me a perfect fit for an organization like Our Response. I have seen firsthand how Medtronic devices have transformed the lives of heart failure patients, children with diabetes, etc. Through the work of Our Response, I have seen a community with little or no hope be filled with hope through such things as child sponsorships and the Nutrition Program. To be a part of Our Response means hope, promise, joy and unity, all of which drive the passion within me to live out my life verse, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”  (Romans 8:28)

Also, to have the opportunity to work alongside so many in the East Central Minnesota area has fulfilled a lifelong passion I have for promoting unity. From the start, Our Response has stressed the importance of not only making an impact in Kivuruga, but also in our own community, which has been very encouraging to me.

I have been a part of planning the Annual Celebration from the beginning. I have also supported several events such as Step Into Africa and other fundraising events. Steve is very familiar with my wiring and reaches out to me when he sees a need that I can fulfill, which has been great.

How will the Annual Celebration be different this year?

I am really excited about the Annual Celebration this year! When Steve first asked me about participating, and asked for my thoughts on what it should look like, I immediately thought of how amazing the Our Response story really is. In previous years we have had headliner acts (Sara Groves, the Asante Children’s Choir), which have been fantastic. This year the Celebration will be an inside view of how Our Response started and where we are now. We will reenact the Our Response story from the beginning, revealing the impact that we as a community have made. Those who have participated with Our Response will help tell the story! Many people aren’t aware of all that went on—and still goes on—behind the scenes, and how incredible the story really is. Those who attend will be in for a real treat, and should prepare to be blown away, as they watch that impact play out on the stage of the Performing Arts Center.