Dear friends of the Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund,

Although it may feel hard to believe-- spring is truly right around the corner! With spring comes our annual fundraising dinner. Every year we invite amazing speakers to share their stories with our guests and this year is no exception.

On May 16th, MMAF will host our annual fundraising dinner at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Bloomington. Keynoting the evening will be General (Retired) Joseph Votel who recently retired as a Four-Star Army General and Commander of the United States Central Command (CENTCOM). Votel returns home to Minnesota after nearly 40-years serving in the highest ranking and most sensitive assignments.

Votel will recount his days growing up in Minnesota, graduating from Cretin High School, and going on to graduate from the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and the U.S. Army War College. Votel commanded the 75th Ranger Regiment in Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom, Iraq. He served in the Pentagon as the Director of the Army and Joint IED Defeat Task Force. He served as the Deputy Commanding General (Operations), 82nd Airborne Division, Operation Enduring Freedom, and as Commanding General of the Joint Special Operations Command. Votel also served as the Commanding General of U.S. Special Operations Command where he oversaw highly classified combat operations for U.S. special operations units. Votel took the helm of U.S. Central Command under President Obama as the United States was ramping up the war on ISIS and the Taliban resurgence in the Middle East. His recent departure this spring comes under President Trump as the United States is ramping down and withdrawing troops from the region. General (Ret.) Votel has had an incredible military career serving under multiple administrations in the fight against ISIS and violent extremists.

Joining Votel will be Dianna Beardsley, a Gold Star mother whose son, Army Staff Sergeant William J. Beardsley (BJ), died when an improvised explosive device detonated near his humvee in Diwaniyah, Iraq in 2007. She will recount the day she and her family received the news of her son’s death and the journey they have been on ever since, including a private meeting in the Oval Office with President George W. Bush. Mrs. Beardsley will share how she and her family have gone about keeping BJ alive in their hearts and how they have moved forward without him in a blessed and positive manner.

We are also looking for grant recipients interested in attending the dinner as our guests. We always look forward to welcoming grant recipients, along with a companion, to attend our dinner at no charge. Tickets are available on a first come, first serve basis. If you are interested in attending the event, please email MMAF. If you would like to learn more, please visit our website: http://www.thankmntroops.org/2019-appreciation-dinner/

We hope to see you there!

Minnesota Auto Dealers Association Oil Change Campaign - February 2019
Thank you to the Minnesota Auto Dealers Association for raising funds for MMAF throughout the month of February by donating $1 for every oil change performed at the over 130 MNADA dealerships. MNADA presented a check for $30,699 to MMAF during a ceremony at the Minnesota Auto Show on Tuesday, March 12, 2019.
Mystic Lake Change For The Better - January 15-31, 2019
Thank you to Mystic Lake Casino Hotel for helping to raise over $8,500 through the Change For The Better program, in which casino guests had the opportunity to donate change from January 15 – 31, 2019. The program allowed guests to share a part of their winnings with MMAF while also helping to raise awareness for the organization.