The Payden Memorial Foundation is named after Payden Polsak, a six year old who died in November 2001 as a result of a brain tumor (medulloblastoma). The Foundation was established after realizing the tremendous need present on so many levels for those Montanans living with children with cancer.
Read “Pedaling for Payden” to find out how Payden inspired a family, a Foundation, a community, and an annual event. [Bozeman Chronicle article, July 2005]
Board of Directors: Our all-volunteer board performs all of the operations of the foundation; there is no paid staff.
Foundation founders JANETTE and MAX POLSAK grew up and met in Washington State. When their daughter Katy was born in 1991, they moved to Montana and settled in Livingston to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of the area. In 1995, their son Payden was born, and two years later their son Murphy.
Life was filled with outings to Yellowstone, Chico Hot Springs, playing baseball, hiking and camping. Then in June 2000, Payden, at age 5, fell ill with Strep Throat. When after treatment, he did not improve, he was taken to the hospital for further tests where they discovered a brain tumor. Hours later they flew to Seattle Children’s Hospital and he was diagnosed with Medullablastoma, a cancerous brain tumor. They stayed the rest of the summer for surgery and treatments. Everyday life was put on hold. Family, friends, and their community rallied around them with loving support and hope.
Payden’s amazing courage, humor, love, and beaming smile was a constant lesson of life. His battle was lost in November 2001, but not his incredible spirit and the precious gifts of his life. The Payden Memorial Foundation is a continuation of Payden’s spirit and those gifts. Having been on that journey, we’ve experienced the overwhelming needs of families and individuals with children battling cancer.
Payden taught us that “Life is … laughter, love, joy, and kindness.” He is our guardian angel, always in our hearts, always watching, always helping, and always smiling.
NATE & ANNE HOSSNER joined the Payden Memorial Foundation in 2003. They believe the Payden Memorial Foundation meets one of Montana’s most critical needs: financially serving families in a time of a crisis. They love to ski, backpack, fish, swim, bike, and play soccer. It’s a full house with their daughter Kate, son Hutch, and two furry retrievers, Bacon and Sophie.
LEZLIE NELSON, the hundred mile hostess, technically joined the Payden Memorial Foundation with its inception in 2002, but was befriended by the Polsaks long before that. She and Payden shared an affinity for pears and a children’s story entitled “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” which she was blessed to share with Payden just before he had to leave. Lezlieplanted pear trees in her yard in his honor and they have produced prolifically ever since (and they’re juicy too!). Lezlie’s life has been touched by cancer numerous times over the years starting with the loss of her father when she was only three, to her sister, some friends and most of her beloved pets. Being a part of this foundation has enriched her life immeasurably as Payden’s joyous spirit lives on by helping so many other kids fighting the battle he sadly had to lose.
Blazing Saddles century riders will recognize Lezlie from the awesome job she does in supporting their 100-mile rides on the Shields River Road loop. She has also supported the board ride with the most superb sag wagon service and refreshment stops that a rider could hope for.
SHELDON & JAN BATEY, Montanan natives, met in 1985 while attending Montana State University. In 1988 they married, and shortly thereafter, had three children. It was in 1994 at Little Feet Preschool that they first met the Polsaks. Their valued friendship with the Polsaks encouraged them to become involved with Payden Memorial Foundation in 2002. In 2009 they were honored to be invited to join the Board of Directors. They feel very fortunate to be in the company of an inspiring, dedicated, and knowledgeable group of people.
ANGIE RENNELLS has been involved with the Payden Memorial Foundation since 2003, providing well-deserved sports massage for the cyclists participating in the “Blazing Saddles – Bike The Bridgers For Kids With Cancer” fundraising event.She joined the Board in 2006 to become part of an amazing community of people helping people. She believes this foundation provides endless amounts of hope and goodness to all who are a part of it. Angie has ridden with the board in our pre-Blazing Saddles ride and has also supported us along the miles. She also serves up an awesome and delicious pasta feed the night before the board ride.