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2015 Say Thanks Day


Say Thanks Day

Presented by Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund

Boy Scout Base Camp – Fort Snelling

Race Results

Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund held its annual Say Thanks Day event on Saturday, September 12, 2015. It took place at the Boy Scout Base Camp at Fort Snelling. The 11th annual event included a 10K run, 5K run, two-mile walk and Marine RECON Challenge which challenged competitors to run three miles in less than 18 minutes.

Participants began arriving before 8:00 a.m. on a beautiful morning, with temperatures in the upper 50s and plenty of sunshine. As participants arrived and checked in, they were greeted by music from the Emerson Avenue Band and a host of volunteers from Sit Investment Associates, TDS Inc. and the Harding High School Junior ROTC program. The event emcee, KFAN FM’s Dan Barreiro, kicked off pre-race festivities at 8:45, welcoming participants and thanking them for supporting Minnesota’s service members. Following a moment of silence to honor those who have sacrificed their lives for our country, Emerson Avenue played moving renditions of Taps and the Star Spangled Banner and four T6 Texan aircraft flew over the site in a missing-man formation. Nearly 200 runners moved to the starting line at 9:00. A few minutes later, more than 500 walkers made their way to the starting line and began to walk the two-mile route.

Walkers and runners returned to music from the Emerson Avenue Band, carnival games and bouncy houses for the kids while the Base Camp climbing walls and ropes course provided a challenge for those looking to take on a vertical endeavor.

Dan Barreiro opened the post-race program and alerted participants to look to the sky where the Patriot Parachute Team was starting their descent towards Base Camp. The skydivers unfurled a giant American flag as they approached and landed precisely in front of the building to the delight of the crowd. MMAF Chair Roger Sit then gave a brief recap on the current grant totals and the important milestones MMAF has reached in the past year. The winners of the 5K and 10K runs along with door prize winners were announced at the close of the program.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the 11th Annual Say Thanks Day. We appreciate your support of Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund and look forward to seeing you again for our 12th Say Thanks Day event in September of 2016.

MMAF sees Say Thanks Day as an opportunity to show appreciation to veterans of all generations along with those who are currently serving, so as part of the event this year, we were excited to host The Wall That Heals, a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. The exhibit includes a mobile education center comprised of photos of service members whose names are found on The Wall, letters and memorabilia left at The Wall in D.C. and a map and chronological overview of the conflict in Vietnam.

The Wall was escorted from the Minnesota – Wisconsin border by nearly 50 Patriot Guard riders and arrived at Base Camp on Wednesday, September 9th and was assembled by a dedicated group of volunteers, including local recruiters for the U.S. Navy. Once assembled, the Wall was open to be viewed 24 hours a day for the duration of its stay in Minnesota.

The official opening ceremony to welcome the Wall took place on Thursday, September 10, with MMAF Chairman Roger Sit thanking members of the Vietnam Veteran Memorial Fund (VVMF) for bringing the Wall to the Twin Cities. MMAF Board Member and Vietnam Veteran, Barry Winslow, shared his perspective on what it meant to host the Wall and General Jon Jensen shared a message of gratitude from the Minnesota National Guard. General (Ret.) Larry Shellito, Commission of Veterans Affairs, shared comments on climate of the nation when he and other Vietnam Veterans returned from combat and how that experience has altered the way that current troops are welcomed home from conflict. General Shellito’s message resonated with those in attendance and shed a great light on the importance of MMAF and veterans organizations to those who have sacrificed on behalf of our country.

On Friday, September 11, a Reading of the Names Ceremony was held to recognize the 1075 Minnesotans who perished in Vietnam. Over 30 participants, including local veterans, family members of Vietnam vets, and supporters of MMAF, each took turns reading the names of the Minnesotans on the Wall. A photo of each service member was displayed on screens as their name was read, a first for the VVMF as they have collected photos of all 1075 Minnesotans on the Wall. The ceremony had a great impact on all those in attendance, especially for those whose family members or friends names were read.

A short closing ceremony was held at 5pm on Sunday, September 13th and the Wall was then dis-assembled by a large group of volunteers. Over 6,300 people visited the Wall between September 9th – 13th, a larger than normal crowd for a metropolitan area. MMAF would like to thank the many volunteers who assisted visitors at Base Camp. 

A special thanks goes to event sponsors: Sit Investment Associates, Federated Insurance, TCF Bank, Atomic Data, Morrie's Automotive Group, iHeartMedia, Nelson Tietz and Hoye, Coldwell Banker-Burnett, Bank of America, B & F Fastener, The Frauenshuh Companies, 7Up/Snapple and Cub Foods. MMAF also thanks the Northern Star Council Boy Scouts of America and Base Camp for allowing Say Thanks Day to take place at their beautiful location.