Bags & Beers For Nat Raises Awareness of Domestic Abuse

Playing bags in memory of Natalie.

When the unthinkable happened, the shock had not yet worn off before Maple Grove couple Nick and Shelly Beissel knew they couldn’t grieve in silence. Nick’s sister, Natalie, was killed by her boyfriend of seven years in an act of domestic violence. They knew it was the time for a conversation about domestic violence in their community.

“After her funeral, we [went] to clean out her house in Arizona and Nick and I were sitting at the pool thinking ‘we have to do something about this,’” Shelly says. “We can’t let her story just sit, we can’t do nothing. We need to tell her story.”
When she was killed at 32, Natalie was entering her fourth year of medical school. She was at the top of her class, planning to specialize in internal medicine.

From their family’s personal tragedy came Love Conquers Violence and its memorial event, Bags & Beers for Nat. “Our mission is to honor Natalie by educating and preventing domestic violence in our community,” Shelly says.

Last year’s first annual event brought more than 300 people together at the Herkimer Pub & Brewery in Minneapolis and raised more than $24,000—more than quadrupling the goal of $5,000.

Half of the proceeds benefit a memorial scholarship fund in Natalie’s name at A.T. Still University, awarded to a fourth-year medical student with a zest for life and service similar to Natalie’s. The other half of the proceeds are donated to the Minneapolis-based Domestic Abuse Project (DAP), which is dedicated to crisis intervention, behavioral therapy and education on domestic violence.

Natalie was a “jeans and a T-shirt kind of girl” Nick says, and Bags & Beers is exactly the kind of party Natalie would attend. "She would’ve wanted to go hang out in a bar and drink some beer and play some bags,” he says.

Participants register in two-person teams for the tournament, and raffles are available for everyone to enter. At last year’s event, not only was the Herkimer packed, but the pub created a specialty beer just for Natalie, naming it Dr. Nat’s Brew to honor her posthumous medical degree. The pub then donated a portion of the sales from that brew to DAP.

“I think a lot of people just didn’t realize that this kind of stuff could go on to people in med school … it kind of opened their eyes a little bit,” Nick explains.

Nick and Shelly look forward to this year’s event. “Honestly, people had so much fun,” Shelly says. “It really brought the community together … it had all of us in tears.”

Red flags of an abusive relationship

  • Abuse of alcohol or other drugs
  • Putting people down, including your family and friends, or calling names excessively
  • Trying to isolate you and control who you see or where you go
  • Not listening or showing interest in your opinions or feelings
  • Blaming all problems on you
  • Threatening suicide if you break up
  • For more information visit the website here.
  • First Call (DAP) available 8 a.m.- 5 p.m., M-F; 612.874.7063 x232

Love Conquers Violence
Bags & Beers for Nat: Saturday, August 5, 2-6 p.m. at The Herkimer, 2922 Lyndale Ave. South; entry fee for tournament participants $30 ($60 per team), for spectators $20, $25 at the door. Registration available at