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2018 Appreciation Dinner


Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund Dinner


Colonel (Retired) Ken Rizer


Former First Lieutenant Trista Matascastillo

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport Hilton, Bloomington, MN

Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund hosted its annual fundraising dinner on Thursday, May 3rd with co-keynote addresses from retired Air Force Colonel Ken Rizer and former Army National Guard First Lieutenant Trista Matascastillo. Col. Rizer and 1Lt. Matascastillo joined nearly 450 guests to show support for Minnesota’s service members and their families at the Airport Hilton in Bloomington. Efforts from the evening raised more than $450,000.

The evening’s program was emceed by Tom Hauser of KSTP 5-Eyewitness News. Tom welcomed guests and provided a wonderful introduction to MMAF for those not already familiar with the organization. The 934th Airlift Wing Color Guard posted colors as choir members from VocalEssence, conducted by Philip Brunelle, performed several patriotic songs. Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Buddy Winn gave an invocation and recognized those who gave their lives in service to the country. MMAF Chair, Roger Sit, updated guests on the progress the organization has made since inception in 2005, distributing grants totaling over $10.9 million dollars to Minnesota service members.  Mr. Sit reiterated that Minnesotans continue to be deployed in large numbers, and that the mission of MMAF will continue until all Minnesotans return home.

Roger then awarded Gunnery Sergeant Kyle Halland, of Farmington, with MMAF’s 17,000th grant. An active duty Marine for almost a decade, GySgt Halland deployed with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, providing intelligence to Army Special Forces Units in the Philippines and Afghanistan. Kyle took a moment to thank those in attendance for their support, taking great pride in the fact that Minnesota takes care of its own.

After dinner, guests were introduced to retired Colonel Ken Rizer who spoke about his 25 years in the Air Force.  Col. Rizer described many examples of heroic, selfless acts by fellow service members throughout his military experience, as well as the honor of commanding Andrews Air Force Base and personally serving President Obama. 

Tom Hauser then returned to the stage and introduced former Army National Guard First Lieutenant Trista Matascastillo, who spoke about her many experiences, including that of a Watch Officer where she notified families that a loved one had been injured or killed.  One of her most difficult days was when she received information about injuries and causalities in the unit in which she trained.  She would have been with this unit had it not been for the ban at the time of women being sent to combat zones. 


Roger Sit presented both speakers with plaques from MMAF in appreciation for their service and sacrifices. The evening concluded with VocalEssence performing God Bless America as the colors were retired.

As the main fundraising event for MMAF, we appreciate the individuals and corporate sponsors who gave so generously. One hundred percent of funds raised at the dinner went directly to our Minnesota troops and their families, as event expenses were underwritten by the main sponsor, Sit Investment Associates.

View the 2018 Fundraising Dinner Photo Gallery on Facebook