Kingsland grad hoping to keep standing tall

Tianna Bornholdt
By : 
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy
Spring Valley Tribune

Ashley Bornholdt wants her sister, Tianna, who stands up for others, to always stand tall. 

However, Tianna, 26, daughter of Donna Miland Bornholdt, is going to need some help to stand tall. She is in need of surgery to continue the repair of her spine and maintain her mobility after two other surgeries, one when she was 14 and the other when she was 20.  

“She’s very caring, thoughtful, outspoken, she stands up for herself, she would definitely help anyone in need, she goes above and beyond.  She has a soft, caring heart,” said Ashley.

Tianna had her first back surgery after “kind of a freak accident that happened at school in gym class…some horsing around, and she got hurt,” said Ashley.  The last surgery she had was in 2012, and doctors anticipate that she’ll be requiring surgery every five to six years.

“The procedure she needs now, the insurance companies won’t pay for because it’s considered experimental,” said Ashley. “The doctor has written three or four letters to the insurance company explaining why she needs surgery, but every time, they don’t accept it.  She has a very long road ahead of her, and we definitely want to make sure she can walk, because if she doesn’t have surgery, she’ll be in a wheelchair within a year, and we don’t want to see her in a wheelchair.” 

Ashley and her younger sister are both Kingsland High School graduates who grew up in Spring Valley, as did their parents, but have since moved away to pursue their individual passions. Tianna played basketball in school, “had scholarships, but that all went down the drain,” said Ashley. “To have your dreams crushed at a young age is terrible, but I think this has made her a stronger person in the end, too.” 

After graduating from Kingsland, Tianna went to Riverland Community College, where she made the dean’s list, to get her degree as a corrections officer.  She’s worked security at Olmsted Medical Center for Premier Security, and she’s hoping to go back to work. 

“But she’s generally in pain every day…there’s no stop throughout the day, and she has to walk with a cane right now,” said Ashley. “It’s hard for her to work now…she actually applied for disability, but that didn’t work.”   

Tianna currently lives in Austin with her boyfriend, Aaron, a licensed practicing nurse (LPN) who’s rounding out his studies as a registered nurse (RN).  The Bornholdt family is thankful that he is understanding of her needs and does what he can to ease her pain and frustration. 

“He’s a great support system for her.  He’s going to school to get his RN, and he’s a good support for her…he’s a caring, loving guy,” said Ashley. “We’re thankful that they have each other, given what she’s going through in her life.” 

Ashley and the Bornholdt family have been as helpful as they can through recent months as Tianna is unable to work. 

“It’s a daily struggle for her to deal with this,” said Ashley. “Some days, she’s got her heart and soul made up that she’s going to get through this, and other days, she’s down.  She takes it day by day, but she has more up days than down, and she’s a much stronger person.”

To lend a hand, Ashley, friends and family are hosting a benefit for Tianna on May 5, offering an opportunity for those who knew her while she was growing up here in Spring Valley to stop in, catch up and maybe lend a hand in keeping her on her own two feet, instead of her having to surrender to being on four wheels. 

The benefit is on Saturday, May 5, at the Spring Valley Community Center from noon to 5 p.m.  Current plans are for a dinner of barbecues, chips and dessert with a silent auction and bake sale.  For the silent auction, people have generously donated some items, and family members plan to go around to local businesses to ask for other donations.  They have a few household items right now because one of the family members has a boutique, but they are hoping to collect some other items for the auction. 

Ashley feels that the benefit will make a difference for her sister, both monetarily — as Tianna’s surgery is out-of-pocket and therefore very costly — and in uplifting her spirits.

“If she doesn’t get the surgery, she’s probably not going to be able to walk in a year.  We’re just trying really hard to get the surgery for her.  We want her to be able to feel like a normal 26-year-old young woman,” said Ashley.  “She has a lot of love to give and definitely would help someone else in need.  Even if someone can’t donate, this is a big event to lift her up.  It would be great if people just stop in to show they care for her, because it will help for her to know that people care.”

For more information, or to donate, contact Ashley Bornholdt at 507-272-6819 or e-mail her at