Say Thanks Day
MMAF raised public awareness with its 7th annual Say Thanks Day on a sunny June morning on Victory Memorial Drive in Minneapolis. The 5K Run and Walk event was held in conjunction with the Victory Memorial Drive Rededication. The historic landscaped boulevard commemorates the 568 men and women of Hennepin County who died in World War I. The scenic boulevard marked its 90th anniversary with a major restoration and renovation. The rededication event honored all veterans and complemented MMAF’s mission of “thanks.”
More than 900 people participated in the 5K run or 2-mile walk along the beautiful Victory Memorial Drive. The Emerson Avenue Band entertained the pre-race crowd. The Drive was decorated with small flags at each marker and the renovated flagpole plaza was a stunning visual as runners and walkers crossed the finish line. There was a wonderful patriotic vibe with participants wearing “thanks” logo shirts and carrying or wearing signs in honor of loved ones.
Following the run and walk, Heidi Collins of Fox 9 News hosted MMAF’s program. The program featured an impressive T6 Texan flyover in missing-man formation. Three grants were awarded that morning to Minnesota Service Members:
- E5 Kyle Tilton
- SSG Dean Lyons
- CPL John Elliott
The Sounds of Blackness entertained the crowd with music and state and county officials rededicated Victory Memorial Drive and its flagpole monument. Historical exhibits, military artifacts and machinery, and historical reenactments were enjoyed by the crowd. A second flyover featuring a C130 capped off a patriotic morning enjoyed by all.
LPS/NML Golf Tournament
MMAF has been a beneficiary of this event for the past five years, receiving over $20,000 this year – double the amount raised last year – bringing the total to over $41,000 to MMAF over the past five years. Organizers Justin Hall and Jeff Manderfeld along with White Eagle Golf Club management and crew do a fantastic job hosting this golf competition and providing a fun opportunity to recognize and thank Service Members.
The Patriot Ride
Over 3,200 motorcycle riders participated in the 6th Annual Patriot Ride from Ham Lake to Cambridge and back. Proceeds from the Patriot Ride are split between MMAF and the Minnesota Patriot Guard. This ride raised nearly $50,000 for MMAF, bringing the total to over $205,000 raised for MMAF since the first ride. Brian Zepp, of the KQRS Morning Show, hosted the pre-ride program which included a flyover by a Blackhawk helicopter and messages from Gold Star families. Despite rain on the ride back to Ham Lake, the motorcycle riders enjoyed a post-ride program featuring General John W. Vessey, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Steven Kleinglass, Director of the Minneapolis VA Hospital. MMAF recognizes organizers Dennis Kirk and the Minnesota Patriot Guard for their continued support.
Freedom Run, Minnesota Lake
This event is a true grassroots effort from a southern Minnesota town of 700 people. Despite rain, 91 motorcycles and 4 classic cars drove to Waterville and back to Minnesota Lake and enjoyed a post-ride meal. The ride and a silent auction raised over $17,000 in spite of the poor weather. This brings the total to over $57,000 for MMAF since the first Freedom Run five years ago. MMAF commends organizers Jane McGregor, Danny Woitas and Tricia Brown.
Fishermen’s Wharf Military Personnel Tournament
The 2nd annual fishing tournament allowed current and former military personnel to participate in a fishing contest, win door prizes and enjoy a fresh fish lunch. Over $2,000 has been raised for MMAF over the past two years.
St. Paul Saints Military Night
MMAF teamed up with the St. Paul Saints, 7UP/Snapple and Cub Foods to honor the military and award three grants during the Saints matchup with the Fargo-Morehead Redhawks. 2,000 temporary seats were placed on the warning track at Midway Stadium for military personnel and their families to enjoy the game. The Saints wore custom camouflage jerseys with MMAF’s “Thanks” logo replacing the player’s name of the back of the jersey.
Prior to the game, three Purple Heart recipients were awarded MMAF grants on the field:
- SSG Owen Rice
- SSG Dennis Hendrickson
- CPL Kyle Mader
Each of these heroes also got to throw a ceremonial first pitch. Despite a rain storm in the third inning and rain delay, the Saints won the game and those Service Members in attendance received some much deserved public recognition and appreciation.
Minnesota Twins Armed Forces Appreciation Day
MMAF worked with the Minnesota Twins to honor Service Members at the Twins / Brewers game. Champions Club ticket holders and suite owners were asked to donate their tickets for this game to a Service Member. Because of their generosity, over 100 family members of Minnesotans killed in combat filled 14 suites, and over 60 MMAF Purple Heart grant recipients along with their families sat in premier seats for the game.
MMAF awarded four Service Members grants on the field prior to the game:
- SSG Nathan Dally
- E5 Patrick Lobejko
- SSG Urban Warnert
- SGT Zach Johnson
SSG Scott Adams, MMAF grant recipient and a member of MMAF’s Steering Committee, gave a live interview as part of Fox Sports Net’s pregame show. SSG Adams downplayed his six deployments and the injuries he sustained from an IED explosion, and instead praised the Twins for their role in honoring the military. He stated, “The Twins know the importance of raising awareness of the sacrifices made by our military and this public recognition of Service Members here today boosts morale.” Service Members were treated to a come-from-behind victory against the Brewers.
Twin Cities River Rats Water Ski Show
The River Rats again hosted a benefit show in support of Minnesota service members and their families. Despite high water and fast currents, the River Rats put on a great show, demonstrating different disciplines of skiing, including barefoot, short skis, wakeboarding and sit-down hydrofoil. The show concluded with a 30-person skiing pyramid, to the delight of the crowd. The River Rats have helped raise over $5,000 for MMAF over the past 3 years. A special thanks to Amy Nordquist, Patrick Brady and Don Phillips for organizing a fun event and continuing to support MMAF.
Minnesota State Fair Military Appreciation Day
As part of the Minnesota’s State Fair’s first ever Military Appreciation Day, MMAF and 29 other groups benefitting Minnesota Service Members set up information tents at the fair. Active duty and veterans received discounted admission to the fair. MMAF provided information to Service Members about receiving cash grants and provided fairgoers a way to say “thanks” to our troops.
Grant Presentation at the State Capitol
Every year on the anniversary of the tragedy of September 11, 2001, MMAF hosts a special ceremony at the State Capitol Rotunda to honor Minnesotans who have served our country since 9/11 and present each with a cash grant from MMAF. This year marked 10 years since the September 11th tragedy. There is no greater calling than service to our country in a time of war.
MMAF honored seven Minnesota Service Members with grants that morning:
- SPC Douglas Allen
- SGT Samatha Belcourt
- SSGT Michael Johnson
- CSM Thomas Dunne
- Cpl. Derek Goodridge
- The family of LCPL Robert Greniger
- The family of 1LT Christopher Goeke
LCPL Greniger and 1LT Goeke paid the ultimate price for our county. Their families were awarded grants that marked MMAF’s milestone of 12,000 grants awarded since inception. “When our country faced tragedy nearly ten years ago, thousands of Minnesotans answered the call of duty. Today, we honor a handful of the brave men and women and thank them and their families for their service to our country,” said Roger Sit, Chair of MMAF.
Concordia Creative Learning Academy Military Fundraiser
Pre-K through 8th grade students at this small St. Paul school collected money in a variety of ways during the month of October and presented MMAF with a check for $375 at a school assembly honoring our military on October 28th.
Cub Foods and 7UP/Snapple Promotions
During the month of July and for a week in November, Cub Foods and 7UP/Snapple partnered on an in-store promotion in which a portion of the proceeds from 7UP/Snapple sales was donated to MMAF. The promotion raised over $30,000 for MMAF, bringing the 4-year total to over $150,000 donated to MMAF. MMAF is appreciative of the commitment to our troops by Dave Johnson of 7UP and Tammie Lukkonen of Cub Foods