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2012 Events

23-Mar-2012 It's humbling to look back at the past year and see how many inspired individuals and groups have organized fundraising events to support MMAF. We’re in awe at how they've helped spread the word about the mission of MMAF and raise funds for Minnesota service members. Some of their efforts include:

February 2012:

MMAF and the Timberwolves

In conjunction with the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Operation Minnesota Heroes program, MMAF presented grants to 17 military service members during Timberwolves home games last February. Grant recipients were also presented at center court with signed basketballs and personalized jerseys. This showing of appreciation, combined with the crowd’s boisterous cheering and standing ovation, created a moving display of pride and emotion in our service members.

Grant recipients and their guests enjoyed the games from Target Center suites generously provided by MMAF Board Members Roger and Nancy McCabe. Special thanks to the McCabes for their support and to Chris Wright, President of the Timberwolves, and his staff for providing this special opportunity to raise public awareness for MMAF. Not only did the event recognize some of our Minnesota heroes, but it raised awareness among basketball fans and allowed them to add their appreciation.  

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Say Thanks Day 10 K Run, 5K Run and Walk presented by Minnesotans' Military Appreciation Fund

MMAF invited military families and the public to its 8th annual “Say Thanks Day” event on Saturday, June 9, 2012. The event was held at a new and now permanent location: the Boy Scout Base Camp at Fort Snelling. The event generated a new category of runners by introducing a 10K run to accompany the eighth consecutive 5K run and two-mile walk.

The new Base Camp venue’s added space and unique facilities generated excitement for the event’s planners, allowing them to expand the offerings to take advantage of the location’s attractions. The historic and lush Fort Snelling State Park accommodated the running events and the spacious upper fields of Fort Snelling provided a route for those walking in the event.

Registration began at 8 a.m. on a beautiful sunny morning, with temperatures in the upper 70s. The participants arrived to see inflatable games ready to be bounced upon, a climbing wall ready to be challenged, a static display and many other new elements for the event.

The group held a poignant moment of silence together to honor those who have sacrificed their lives for our country, followed by a military band’s moving renditions of Taps and the Star Spangled Banner. A flyover of vintage T-6 Texan aircrafts in missing man formation signified that the race was about to start and provided an exciting moment for the crowd and participants. More than 100 runners prepared themselves for the 10K run, while over at the starting line for the 5K run, another 300 runners moved into position for their 9 a.m. race. Minutes later, more than 600 walkers made their way to the starting line and began to walk the two-mile course, which was lined with American Flags fluttering slightly in the open air and sunshine.

While walkers and runners enjoyed the ideal weather and scenic views, music from the Emerson Avenue Band energized those remaining at Base Camp. The rousing music provided a festive backdrop as the inflatable games became populated with kids of all ages and the climbing walls teemed with thrill-seekers looking to challenge themselves in a vertical endeavor. Meanwhile, the Forest Lake VFW was busy serving food to returning runners and walkers, who eagerly awaited the morning program.

Following the walk, 5K and 10K runs, a program featuring MMAF Co-Founder General Dennis Schulstad and MMAF Chair Roger Sit discussed the impressive history of MMAF and updated the crowd on current grant totals and other important milestones reached in the past year. MMAF Co-Founders Michael Gorman and Skip Krawczyk awarded grants to Minnesota service members:

Sergeant Erin Cochran, Forest Lake

Lance Corporal Jason Tuuri, White Bear Lake

Thank you to Say Thanks Day event sponsors: Sit Investment AssociatesFederated InsuranceTCF Bank, The Wealth Enhancement Group, Nelson, Tietz and Hoye Inc, TDS Inc, Cub Foods and 7Up. A special thank you to the Northern Star Council Boy Scouts of America and Base Camp for allowing Say Thanks Day to take place at their beautiful location, to the Forest Lake VFW for serving food at the event and to all our volunteers who made the day possible.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the 8th annual Say Thanks Day. We appreciate your support of MMAF. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

7th Annual Patriot Ride, Lions Park, Ham Lake, MN

More than 2,000 riders participated in the 7th annual Patriot Ride, which began with a moving tribute to service members and their families – a Blackhawk helicopter flyover. Brian Zepp, of the 92 KQRS morning show, kicked off a pre-race program that included messages from veterans and their families. The pre-race program concluded just before noon and the riders left for the Cambridge armory. Braving a steady rain, the riders returned still smiling to Lions Park for the post-race ceremony. The many Gold Star families in attendance were given a chance to honor their loved ones with a ceremonial release of balloons.

This year’s event featured the Canadian Vietnam Veterans Memorial Moving Wall and a wreath laying ceremony to honor the 121 Canadians confirmed killed in the Vietnam War serving with the US Armed Forces, including the seven “Missing in Action” service members. The program’s conclusion included the raffle of a 2012 Harley-Davidson Road Glide motorcycle. Proceeds from the Patriot Ride are spilt between MMAF and the Minnesota Patriot Guard. This year’s ride raised nearly $45,000 for MMAF, for a total of $265,000 raised since the inaugural ride in 2006. MMAF recognizes organizers Dennis Kirk and the Minnesota Patriot Guard for their continued dedication to MMAF and its mission. Click Here to learn more about the ride!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Ray Fagen Memorial Air Show – Planes and Songs, Granite Falls, MN

The World War II-era air show featured some of the most storied planes in the history of the U.S. Armed Forces. Thousands of people joined pilots Ron Fagen, Evan Fagen and Rob Ator as they simulated dog-fights in their P-51 Mustang, P-40 Warhawk and P-38 Lightning from the Fagen Fighters WWII Museum. The flight demonstrations included restored WWII ground vehicles and added sound effects wowed those in attendance. The Aeroshell Acrobatic Team and Valiant Echos Airshows performed live and the Liberty Jump Team provided an exciting jumping demonstration by parachuting out of the Cavanaugh Flight Museum C-47. Following the air show, fans enjoyed live music from Aaron Tippin and his band at a 1940s-style hangar dance. Special thanks to the Fagen family for their incredible efforts to raise a total of $15,000 for MMAF over three years. Click Here for additional information.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

6th Annual Freedom Run, Minnesota Lake, MN

The 6th annual Freedom Run featured more than one hundred motorcycles and classic cars, whose drivers braved rain and rode over 100 miles in support of Minnesota’s service members and their families. MMAF Steering Committee member David Jensen and SFC Larry Eustice provided pre-race messages to participants, echoing the need for continued support of our military. Several service members were on hand to share their stories and help solidify why participants were willing to ride. Riders returned to Minnesota Lake for live music, food and a silent auction. The day’s events raised over $17,000 dollars for MMAF, for a total of over $75,000 since 2007. Special thanks to Jane McGregor, Danny and Tricia Woitas and Shellie Wiederholt-Berndt for the hard work and countless hours they dedicated to make the 6th annual Freedom Run another great success. Click here for additional details about this year's ride!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Minnesota Twins Armed Forces Appreciation Day, Target Field

MMAF partnered with the Minnesota Twins to honor our Minnesota service members during the July 1 game against the Kansas City Royals. To make the event possible, Champions Club ticket holders and suite owners donated their tickets. Thanks to their generosity, family members of Minnesotans killed in action filled 16 suites, and more than 50 MMAF Purple Heart grant recipients and their families sat in premier seats for the game. The military personnel and their families were treated to the best Twins stadium offerings off the field, while the players treated the fans to a come-from-behind victory on the field.

Prior to the first pitch, five Purple Heart recipients were honored on Target Field with $2,000 to $8,000 grant checks presented by MMAF Steering Committee members Roger and Nancy McCabe on the field:

CPL Andrew Dopp, Grand Rapids

Private Zachary Fife, St. Paul

SGT Derek Lenz, Minneapolis

SSG Tim Nelson, Lino Lakes

SSG Wesely Cureton, Minneapolis MMAF Steering Committee Member David Jensen and grant recipient Tim Nelson were interviewed by the Twins Radio Network in association with the game. Listen to that interview here.

In addition to the Twins’ generosity during the game, Minnesota Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire participated as voice talent in MMAF radio public service announcements. The public service announcements were used in the ballpark and distributed to radio stations across the state for their use. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Twin Cities River Rats Water Ski Show Team

This August, the Twin Cities River Rats Water Ski Show Team held their 4th annual benefit show for MMAF on the banks of the Mississippi River. A slight rain shower was no distraction for the hundreds in attendance that were continually wowed as the River Rats performed to the best of their abilities, demonstrating different skiing disciplines, including barefoot, 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, while the evening concluded with a 20-foot-high human pyramid to the crowd’s amazement. A special thanks goes out to the River Rats, especially Amy Nordquist and Don Phillips for organizing the event and continuing their great support for Minnesota’s military personnel and their families. For more information on the River Rats, Click Here!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Minnesota Vikings vs. Buffalo Bills - Metrodome - Minneapolis

The Minnesota Vikings donated more than 1,000 tickets to MMAF grant recipients and their families for the game against the Buffalo Bills. A special thanks to the Vikings as they continue to support Minnesota's service members and their families.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Let's Ride, Minnesota - Olivia/Bird Island MN - Renville County Fairgrounds

Let's Ride, Minnesota, was a first ever motorcycle rally for Renville County Veterans, Minnesotans' Military Appreciation Fund, Disabled American Veterans, Fisher Houses Minnesota and the Tim Orth Foundation. The rally held in West Central Minnesota was meant to benefit the many military families in the region who have sacrificed on behalf of all Minnesotans.  Hundreds of people joined at the Renville County Fairgrounds and honored Military Families with live music, food and a festive atmosphere! Click Here learn more about Lets Ride, Minnesota.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Leech Lake Area Ride For Vets - Walker Area American Legion Post 134

On a rainy and windy August morning in northern Minnesota, 64 motorcycle riders participated in a ride that demonstrated their support to Minnesota’s service members and their families.  The Legion Riders secured nearly 60 sponsors who donated door prizes or their services and helped the Legion Riders raise $5,000 for MMAF.  Before the ride started, MMAF Steering Committee member Cheri Ford awarded four cash grants to service members or to parents of a deployed service member.  MMAF would like to recognize Gary Kennedy, President of Legion Riders, Mark Whade, Road Captain, and all the Legion Riders for all their hard work in organizing this new event. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Military Appreciation Day at the Minnesota State Fair

On Tuesday, August 28, 2012, the Minnesota State Fair held its second-annual Military Appreciation Day. As part of the day, Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund and more than 40 other organizations benefitting Minnesota veterans set up within the fairgrounds. Fairgoers learned how they could assist MMAF and other organizations with donations, volunteer opportunities and general support. Military personnel who had served in a combat zone since 2001 were able to learn about applying for a grant from MMAF. In addition, many grant recipients stopped by the MMAF booth to shake hands and show their appreciation for the Fund. Fairgoers picked up thousands of “Thanks” pins to help spread the message that we are grateful for the sacrifices of Minnesota veterans and their families.

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