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Recap of 2011 Events


Thank You to everyone who organized, volunteered, and participated in the many great events held on behalf of Minnesotans' Military Appreciation Fund in June and July!

9Th Annual LPS/NML Golf Tournament:

On behalf of LPS, NML, and the MMAF, we sincerely thank all our participants, sponsors, and volunteers for making this year’s event so successful!  Collectively the tournament raised $20,000 for the Minnesota Military Appreciation Fund. With your help we reached our goal to double our fundraising efforts of 2010! Great job everyone! We’d like to acknowledge White Eagle Golf Club management and crew for hosting our event again this year and for their golf round donation. We’d also like to thank David Jensen a two time Purple Heart grant recipient for representing MMAF and receiving the donation check. We also want to give special thanks to all our veterans and active duty soldiers who participated this year.

6Th Annual Patriot Ride, Ham Lake:
The 6th Annual Patriot Ride took place on June 18, 2011 in Ham Lake MN.  Over 3,200 riders participated in the event, which was kicked off by a Blackhawk helicopter flyover. Brian Zepp, of the 92 KQRS morning show, kicked off a pre-race program that included messages from Gold Star families. The very moving pre-race program concluded just before noon and the riders left for the Cambridge armory where they were entertained by the SquidWheelies stunt bike team. The riders braved a steady rain to return to Lions Park for the post race ceremony. Steven P. Kleinglass, Director or the Minneapolis VA Hospital and General John W. Vessey, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff addressed those in attendance. The many Gold Star families in attendance were given a chance to honor their loved ones with a ceremonial release of balloons. The conclusion of the program included the raffle of a 2011 Harley-Davidson Streetglide motorcycle. Thank you to all of the many organizers of the 2011 Patriot Ride for another great event and mark the date for the 2012 ride, June 16, 2012 on your calendars!

5th Annual Freedom Run, Minnesota Lake:
The 5th Annual Freedom Run in Minnesota Lake, MN took place on June 18, 2011. The event featured 91 motorcycles and 4 classic cars who braved rain to support Minnesota’s service members and their families. The event was kicked off by Rev. Rudolph Maurer, who asked that all participants and service members return safely. Letters were read from two local service members currently deployed, National Guard members and a rifle salute helped solidify why participants were willing to ride. The route took riders through Geneva to Waterville and back to Minnesota Lake where a post-ride meal had been set up by the Great Escape. The days’ events raised over $17,000 dollars for Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund. Special Thanks to Jane McGregor, Danny Woitas and Tricia Woitas for all of the hard work they put in to make the 5th Annual Run another great success!

Brooklyn Center Centennial Celebration:
Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund was on hand to present grants to two service members during the Brooklyn Center Centennial Celebration.  We were proud to be part of the events as the city of Brooklyn Center spent the evening honoring veterans of all ages with a T-6 flyover, color guard, and fireworks.

St. Paul Saints Independence Celebration:
Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund and the St. Paul Saints teamed up with Snapple and Cub Foods to honor 3 grant recipients on Friday July 1 during the Saints matchup with the Fargo-Morehead Redhawks. The Saints invited military personnel and their families to the game as they placed 2000 temporary seats on the warning track at Midway Stadium.  Three Purple Heart grant recipients, SSG Owen Rice, SSG Dennis Hendrickson and CPL Kyle Mader were invited to bring family members and friends to the game and a pregame hospitality area was set up for them. Representatives from Snapple and Cub Foods joined MMAF Project Director Joe Bennek on the field as each of the grant recipients were presented their checks. After receiving their checks, each grant recipient was invited to throw a ceremonial first pitch to start the game between the Saints and the Redhawks. In addition to the festivities taking place before the game, the Saints wore custom camouflage jerseys with MMAF’s “Thanks” logo replacing each players name on the back of the jersey. The jerseys were auctioned off with the proceeds going to MMAF. Though a rain storm in the third inning delayed the game for over 2 hours, the Saints came away victorious in front of the service members and their families.

Minnesota Twins Armed Forces Appreciation Day:
The Minnesota Twins honored 4 MMAF grant recipients on Target Field prior to the Sunday, July 3 game against the Milwaukee Brewers. MMAF Steering Committee members Roger and Nancy McCabe presented $500 grant checks to SSG Nathan Dally, E5 Patrick Lobejko, and SSG Urban Warnert and a $2,000 grant check to SGT Zach Johnson. While the McCabe’s were on the field presenting the grant checks, SSG Scott Adams, also a member of the Steering Committee participated in a live interview Fox Sports Net’s Kevin Gorg during the FSN pregame show. SSG Adams spoke about his 6 deployments and the injuries he sustained from an IED in addition to answering questions about MMAF.  The Twins also began what will hopefully be an annual event as they asked their suite owners and Champions Club ticket holders to donate their tickets to a service member for the game.  Over 60 Purple Heart grant recipients and their families, totaling over 215 people, received tickets as part of this offer. In addition, the Twins filled 14 suites with the families of Minnesotans who gave their life while in combat. The military personnel and their families were treated to the best the Twins could offer off the field, while the players treated the fans to a come from behind victory on the field.

Third Annual Twin Cities River Rats Benefit Show:
On Tuesday, August 9, 2011, the Twin Cities River Rats Water Ski Show Team held their 3rd
Annual benefit show for MMAF on the banks of the Mississippi River. The weather cooperated on a beautiful evening, even as the river brought higher water and faster currents than ideal for the show. The hundreds of people in attendance were wowed as the River Rats performed to the best of their abilities, demonstrating different disciplines of skiing including bare-foot, short skis, wakeboarding and the sit-down hydrofoil. The Rats’ jump team hit the ski jump for front and back flips, along with other aerial stunts as tandem skiers raced up and down the river. The Rats then showed their expertise in doubles. Straps and concluded the evening with a 30 person pyramid to the amazement of the crowd. A special “Thanks” goes out to the River Rats, especially Amy Nordquist, Patrick Brady and Don Phillips for organizing the event and continuing the great support for Minnesota’s military personnel and their families.

MMAF at the Minnesota State Fair:

On Tuesday, August 30, 2011 the Minnesota State Fair held its’ first ever Military Appreciation Day. As part of the day, Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund and 29 other groups benefitting Minnesota veterans set up tents at the fairgrounds. Fairgoers were able to pick up information on how they could assist MMAF and the other organizations with donations, volunteer opportunities and general support. It was also a great day for fairgoers to help say “Thanks” to the thousands of visible veterans in attendance throughout the day.

On Monday, September 5, 2011 MMAF was back at the State Fair, this time to receive a check from Cub Foods and 7Up/Snapple. During the month of July, Cub Foods and 7Up/Snapple partnered on an in-store promotion in which a portion of all 7Up/Snapple purchased was donated directly to MMAF. Cub and 7Up/Snapple were proud to present a check of over $22,000 dollars to MMAF as a result of the campaign, bringing a 4 year total to over $150,000 dollars donated. We offer our “Thanks” to both Cub Foods and 7Up/Snapple for their continued support of Minnesota’s service members. 


9/11 Event at the State Capitol Rotunda:

To commemorate the events of September 11, 2001 and to honor those who have served our country since that tragic day, Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund held an annual event at the State Capitol Rotunda on Friday, September 9, 2011. Chaplain John Morris joined MMAF Chair, Roger Sit and Co-Founders, Michael Gorman and Denny Schulstad as we honored 8 grant recipients. We were honored to present $500 grants to PFC Douglas Allen of Rosemount, SGT Samantha Belcourt of Stillwater, SSGT Michael Johnson of Jordan and CSM Thomas Dunne of St. Paul. We were also able to personally honor SPC Jeffrey Traeger and CPL Derek Goodridge with grants of $2,000 for being recipients of the Purple Heart. MMAF was proud to honor Ashley Greniger and Randy Goeke with our 12,000th grant. Griniger’s husband LCPL Robert Greniger was fatally injured on July 12, 2011 after being struck by an IED in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Goeke’s son 1LT Christopher Goeke was fatally injured on July 13, 2010 while responding to an enemy attack in Kandahar, Afghanistan. We offer our message of “Thanks” to each of the grant recipients who attended the event and to all of those who have served our country.

KARE-11 News ran a story on the event, it can be seen here: http://www.kare11.com/video/default.aspx?bctid=1151830218001