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2013 Fundraising Dinner with General Stanley McChrystal


Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Dinner - Tuesday, April 16, 2013

General (Ret.) Stanley McChrystal,

Former U.S. Commander in Afghanistan

General (Ret.) Stanley McChrystal joined us for a memorable night in support of our Minnesota service members on Tuesday, April 16, 2013. General McChrystal and his wife, Annie, joined over 600 other guests to help show support for Minnesota’s service members and their families at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Bloomington. Efforts from the evening have raised nearly $600,000 to date, all of which go directly to MMAF.

The evening began with a question and answer session between General McChrystal and General (Ret.) John W. Vessey, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which was moderated by MMAF Co-Founder General (Ret.) Dennis Schulstad. This intimate session allowed some of MMAF’s greatest supporters the opportunity to hear from two of the brightest military minds of our time as they spoke about current world affairs. As the session ended, guests enjoyed a cocktail hour in preparation for the evenings’ main event.

When it was time for the doors to open to the main ballroom, guests were escorted into the room by a group of energetic young Junior ROTC members from Harding High School in St. Paul. Guests were treated to a room that had been decorated beautifully by the DoubleTree staff and capped off with a large American Flag adorned behind the stage. Our event emcee, Heidi Collins of Fox 9 News, welcomed guests to the event and provided a wonderful introduction to MMAF for those who were not acquainted with the organization. The Minnesota National Guard Honor Guard posted colors as choir members from Musical Portraits of America sand the Star Spangled Banner and Armed Forces Medley. Roger Sit, MMAF Chair, updated guests on the progress the organization has made since inception in 2005, noting that more than 14,500 cash grants have been awarded to Minnesotans, totaling over $9 million. Retired Army Chaplain Glen Bloomstrom gave a wonderful invocation as dinner was served to the over 600 in attendance.

As dinner commenced, guests were treated to a performance by local musician Kurt Orning and his song, My Name is America, which was written shortly after the attacks of September 11, 2001. Heidi Collins returned to the stage to introduce MMAF grant recipient SSG Patrick Nelson, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, U.S. Army and received Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals. Patrick spoke briefly about his time in Iraq and Afghanistan and enlightened guests as to what life is like for a soldier in combat. As Patrick continued to speak, he captivated the room when his speech took the direction of what life is like for a soldier after returning from combat and the struggles that are faced in returning to society. His message, directed at supporting veterans by hiring them, resonated with everyone in the room and helped raise awareness among the business leaders present as to this growing need for veteran employment. A very special thank you is directed to SSG Patrick Nelson for sharing his experiences with everyone in attendance at the event.

As Patrick’s speech commenced, Heidi Collins introduced another local speaker, Sonja Faust of Waconia, whose son SGT Colin Faust served in Afghanistan with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment and received a Purple Heart medal. Sonja, from a mother’s perspective, told the story of her son joining the Marine Corps and how his family was changed by their experience. Colin was fully supported by his parents and siblings when entering the Marines, and the Marine Corps fully supported Colin when he was injured in Afghanistan. Sonja spoke to how MMAF made a powerful impact after Colin’s injury as money used from the grant checks paid for daily trips to the VA Hospital and remodeling of the home Colin would live in when returning to college. The Faust family joined Sonja on stage as her speech commenced, causing many tears to be shed amongst everyone in attendance. A very special thank you is directed to Sonja, Colin and the Faust family for sharing their story with MMAF and the guests at the dinner.

As the applause from Patrick and Sonja’s wonderful speeches died down, local vocalist Deja Gill performed Wind Beneath My Wings. General Vessey took the stage and began to speak about General McChrystal in what became a very thought provoking introduction, that was full of insightful comments and a few comical moments as well. General McChrystal gladly took the stage and noted that he was honored to speak as General Vessey was someone he had admired throughout his life. General McChrystal spoke as to how he had recently been in Pennsylvania and encountered the memorial to the 1St Minnesota Regiment, which led the charge at the Battle of Gettysburg and helped save the Union Army from what looked like certain defeat. He talked about how Minnesotans have never shied away from battle and have always answered the call to arms when the nation has needed it. General McChrystal also spoke as to how honoring and thanking veterans continues to be important, especially in the ever-changing world we live in. Upon commencement of his speech, General McChrystal was joined by his wife Annie, and Roger Sit, who awarded the General a plaque in appreciation for his support of MMAF and a bouquet of roses to Mrs. McChrystal. Heidi Collins offered closing remarks and offered a thank you to everyone who attended the event. The evening was then closed with Musical Portraits of America singing God Bless America and From Sea to Shining Sea.

Past keynote speakers include Senator John McCain, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, New York Times best-selling author and Minnesotan, Vince Flynn, television journalist and best-selling author, Tom Brokaw and most recently Medal of Honor recipient Colonel Jack Jacobs. All speakers have waived their talent fees and General McChrystal followed suit.

As the main fundraising event for MMAF, we appreciate the individuals and corporate sponsors who gave so generously. 100 percent of funds raised at the dinner will go directly to MMAF, as event expenses were underwritten by the main sponsor, Sit Investment Associates. To date, this year’s event has raised nearly $600,000 dollars.

Thank you to our Host Committee and the companies and individuals who purchased tables for the event.  

Host Committee

Roger and Michele Sit

Al and Cathy Annexstad

Louie and Kathrine Hill

John W. and Avis Vessey

Skip and Sarah Krawczyk

Leadership Tables

  • •Donald E. Benson
  • •Fritz and Glenda Corrigan
  • •Dennis Kirk/Minnesota Patriot Guard
  • •Skip and Sarah Krawczyk
  • •Roger and Nancy McCabe
  • •Carl and Eloise Pohlad Foundation
  • •Debra Sit and Peter Berge
  • •Gail V. Sit
  • •Roger and Michele Sit
  • •Warren and Mary Lynn Staley

Contributor Tables

  • •Anonymous Donor
  • •Atomic Data
  • •Deloitte & Touche
  • •Federated Insurance
  • •Michael and Elizabeth Gorman
  • •Louis F. and Kathrine Hill
  • •HLB Tautges Redpath, Ltd.
  • •Robert and Dorothy Ollmann
  • •Robert and Gayle Sit
  • •Ron and Teresa Sit
  • •Ralph and Grace Strangis
  • •TCF Financial Corporation

Supporter Tables

  • •Anonymous Donor (2)
  • •Bruce Boeder
  • •Doug and Wendy Dayton
  • •Dorsey & Whitney, LLP
  • •Logistics Health, Inc.
  • •Minnesota Timberwolves
  • •Minnesota Vikings
  • •Dan Mulvaney, Sunbelt Business Associates
  • •New Era Financial
  • •Howard O’Connell
  • •Opus Group
  • •Patterson Companies
  • •Killian Rieder and Jeff Julkowski
  • •Robbins, Kaplan, Miller and Ciresi, LLP
  • •Raymond Sit and Tania Shih-Sit
  • •Target
  • •U.S. Bank
  • •Wealth Enhancement Group
  • •Wedding Day Diamonds
  • •Barry and Sandy Winslow
  • •Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A.