Million-dollar smiles

Hagadones give $1 million for new Boys and Girls Club, put up another $1 million in challenge to community

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A little instruction goes a long way Friday as Boys & Girls Club's Audrey Nordhausen helps 8-year-old Olivia Eismann.

To raise $2 million for Kootenai County’s first Boys and Girls Club took seven years.

To raise $2 million for another Boys and Girls Club — this one in Coeur d’Alene — took about seven minutes.

The organization’s board of directors was introduced to Duane and Lola Hagadone on Thursday and, with no warning, learned that the Hagadone family is donating $1 million cash and as much as $1 million more in a challenge for the community to match. If the challenge is met, the $3 million total would build a $2.5 million facility and provide funds to operate it for a year.

“It was a beautiful moment. It was one of the most special moments I’ve ever witnessed,” board chairman Pat Whalen said of the Hagadones’ stunning announcement. “Most of our board had no idea that this was happening.

“The Hagadones walked in unannounced. Ron [Nilson] spoke for half a minute, then turned it over to them. It was heartfelt and I know many of us had tears in our eyes, tears on our cheeks.”

Duane Hagadone’s talk took just a few minutes, but Nilson, a Boys and Girls Club board member and tireless fundraiser for a decade, had been working on him for some time. It paid off shortly after Duane and Lola toured the Boys and Girls Club — Jordan Johnson Center in Post Falls.

“Lola and I are very big believers in the Boys and Girls Club,” Hagadone told The Press. “Ever since Ron called a couple months ago, we’ve been giving it a lot of thought.”

On May 11, Nilson gave Duane Hagadone his first glimpse of the Jordan Johnson Center, and he saw an instant connection taking place.

“I just pictured that Duane would look at this as more of a business tour and assess the situation,” Nilson said. “But I saw Duane emotionally attached to these kids. He was truly interested in their stories.”

A promised 15-minute tour turned into an hour, Nilson said.

“He was wondering how much room we had. I said, ‘We have no more room, Duane. We underbuilt because that’s what we had the money for at the time.’ And ever since, we’ve been turning away hundreds of kids in Kootenai County.”

A deal was essentially sealed Thursday when Nilson brought Duane back, this time with Duane’s wife, Lola.

“It’s a hard thing to describe,” Duane said Friday. “There were about 250 young children, between the ages of 7 and 13, when we visited. Most or all of them have got some kind of challenge.

“It was really heartwarming to see those youngsters playing games, doing homework, some of them doing special art projects, some of them even cooking. They have a wonderful team — the staff is completely attentive to these children, and they seem very happy.”

Hagadone explained that the Boys and Girls Club’s mission is right up Lola’s alley.

“Lola loves to work with children,” he said, noting that Lola worked as a speech therapist after college. “She has been a big part of this, and she’s really excited and proud. I won’t be surprised if she ends up volunteering. When it comes to the youth, she’s right there.”

The Hagadones are both right there now, and it isn’t the first time, board chair Whalen noted.

When the organization was struggling to finish its initial capital campaign, Whalen said Nilson encouraged the Hagadones to host a fundraiser for the first Boys and Girls Club in July 2012.

“Our goal was to raise between $150,000 and $300,000,” Nilson recalled. “We had what I think is the No. 1 auction ever in Kootenai County. We raised $518,000 in one hour.”

On April 9 of this year, thanks to what Whalen described as outstanding cooperation with the Coeur d’Alene School District and the City of Coeur d’Alene to procure land, a capital campaign was launched for the second facility. If community donations match the Hagadones’ $1 million challenge, the new club will be 20,000-plus square feet compared to the 11,000-square-foot Jordan Johnson Center, said Ryan Davis, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Kootenai County. The new building will be located on the south side of Lakes Magnet Middle School, 930 N. 15th St. in Coeur d’Alene.

Davis said he expects about 400 kids a day at the Coeur d’Alene location. The Jordan Johnson Center sees about 225 kids a day.

Davis said he had a good feeling about the Hagadones’ possible participation on Thursday after he’d introduced Duane and Lola to an 8-year-old girl on her first day back at Boys and Girls Club after battling leukemia.

“There’s hundreds of similar stories every single day at the club,” he said. “This donation sure has put a charge in us not just to do it, but to do it right.”

Davis couldn’t help but look ahead.

“Duane has always been a visionary in this community,” he said. “Who’s to say that the next Duane or Lola or Denzel Washington [an avid Boys and Girls Club supporter] could be at our club in Coeur d’Alene and have their lives completely changed?”

Hagadone put a verbal ribbon on the gift, saying:

“The worst thing is for these kids to come home at 3 o’clock and there’s nobody there. And that’s when kids get into trouble. I think they’ve got a great organization at the Boys and Girls Club and a great staff that really cares about and works with these young people. Lola and I couldn’t be more pleased or more excited, helping these youngsters get a better start in life.”


If you'd like to help with the challenge or you've got questions, contact Ryan Davis at the Boys and Girls Club of Kootenai County: (208) 457-9089 or

About Boys and Girls Club

MISSION: To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.

CORE BELIEFS: A Boys and Girls Club provides a safe place to learn and grow; ongoing relationships with caring, adult professionals; life-enhancing programs and character development experiences; hope and opportunity.

Carolina Zandhuisen (left), 6, and 7-year-old Erin Riggs listen to some pool table wisdom from Omar Jurado-Woelz at the Boys & Girls Club - Jordan Johnson Center in Post Falls.

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