Say Thanks Day
Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund held its annual Say Thanks Day event on Saturday, September 13 at the Boy Scout Base Camp at Fort Snelling. The 10th 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 40s 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, Target, TDS Inc. and the Harding High School Junior ROTC program. The event emcee, Brigadier General (Ret.) Denny Schulstad, 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. Nearly 300 runners moved to the starting line at 9:00. A few minutes later, more than 400 walkers made their way to the starting line and began to walk the two-mile route. Members of the Minnesota Patriot Guard, holding flags, lined the course and cheered on participants.
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.
General Denny Schulstad 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 gave a brief recap on the current grant totals and the important milestones MMAF has reached in the past year. Roger then invited General Schulstad and MMAF Co-Founder Skip Krawczyk to the stage to award a grant check to Specialist Caleb Fisher, a Minnesota veteran who served in Iraq. The winners of the 5K and 10K runs along with door prize winners were announced at the close of the program.
A special thanks goes to event sponsors: Sit Investment Associates, Federated Insurance, Target, TCF Bank, The Wealth Enhancement Group, TDS Inc, Cub Foods and 7UP. MMAF also thanks Atomic Data and Cambria for sponsoring the Patriot Parachute Team jump and to the Northern Star Council Boy Scouts of America and Base Camp for allowing Say Thanks Day to take place at their beautiful location.
Thank you to everyone who participated in the 10th Annual Say Thanks Day. We appreciate your support of Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund and look forward to seeing you again for our 11th Say Thanks Day event in September of 2015.
The Patriot Ride
The Minnesota Patriot Guard and Dennis Kirk presented the 2014 Patriot Ride at Lions Park on Saturday, June 14. The 50-mile charity motorcycle ride drew more than 1,000 riders who battled rain and heavy wind to show their support for Minnesota’s service members and their families. Participants enjoyed live music, food, a parachute jump from the Patriot Parachute Team, the Donnie Smith Bike Show and featured speakers throughout the day. The afternoon Military Recognition Program honored Wounded Warriors and Gold Star Families for their service and sacrifices, providing a powerful message to everyone in attendance.
Freedom Run, Minnesota Lake
The eighth annual Freedom Run, a 100-mile motorcycle and classic car rally through scenic south central Minnesota, drew hundreds of participants to show their support for Minnesota’s members and their families. The morning began with remarks from event organizers and local service members who illustrated why the Freedom Run continues to be a great way to show support for veterans and their families. Upon returning to Minnesota Lake after the ride, participants enjoyed live music, a hog roast, live auction and prizes. The Freedom Run raised more than $22,500 dollars for Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund.
Minnesota Twins Armed Forces Appreciation Day
The Minnesota Twins honored four Purple Heart recipients at Target Field before the Twins played the Yankees on Sunday, July 6 as part of Military Appreciation Day. MMAF Co-Founder General Dennis Schulstad awarded MMAF grant checks to Sergeant Justin Hattesohl, Staff Sergeant Thomas Keane, Corporal Ethan Nagel and Corporal Tanner Wichmann. The Twins were honored to have Governor Dayton in attendance to help recognize Minnesota’s military and their families. General Jack Vessey, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a strong supporter of MMAF, threw out a ceremonial first pitch. The Twins also honored WWII Veterans for the 70th anniversary of D-Day and liberation of Italy.
Twin Cities River Rats Water Ski Show
The Twin Cities River Rats hosted their sixth annual military benefit show on Tuesday, August 12. The team took to the water on a beautiful evening in front of a crowd of more than 2,000 people who turned out to show their support for Minnesota service members and their families. Staff Sergeant Scott Adams, a longtime member of the MMAF Steering Committee, addressed the crowd to thank them for their support and awarded an MMAF grant check to Sergeant Kyle Kissinger of St. Paul. The Rats put on another great show with outstanding performances by barefoot skiers, ski-jumpers and a 30 foot high human pyramid to cap off the night. The evening raised more than $1,500 for MMAF and other veterans organizations.
Leech Lake Area Ride for Vets
The fourth annual Leech Lake Area Ride for Vets took place on Saturday, August 23 at the Walker Area American Legion Post 134. The 100-mile ride helped raise funds and awareness for for MMAF.
Minnesota State Fair Military Appreciation Day
The Minnesota State Fair held its annual Military Appreciation Day on Tuesday, August 26 as veterans and current service members and their families received discounted admission into the fairgrounds. The day was well attended with a record crowd of 133,595 people coming through the gates. This year brought a new location for MMAF and the other veteran’s organizations taking part in the event, bringing in more traffic than ever before. MMAF handed out hundreds of t-shirts and “Thanks” pins, and more than 500 postcards were filled out to be sent to Minnesotans serving abroad.
Minnesota Timberwolves Operation Heroes Month
In conjunction with the Minnesota Timberwolves Operation Minnesota Heroes program, MMAF presented grants to nine military service members during every Timberwolves home game in November. Grant recipients were also presented jerseys at center court and enjoyed the game from Target Center suites generously provided by MMAF Board Members Roger and Nancy McCabe. Special thanks to the McCabe’s for their support and to Timberwolves President Chris Wright and his staff for providing this special opportunity to raise public awareness for MMAF and recognition for some of our Minnesota heroes. The grant recipients included the following veterans:
- Captain Karen Anderson
- Private First Class Craig Carroll
- Petty Officer Third Class Jenna Correa
- Specialist Angela Fitts
- Sergeant Christopher Gudvangen
- Specialist Tucker Ingenthron
- Specialist Kyle Kevlin
- Corporal Kody Klemetson
- Sergeant Kyle Thyberg
Minnesota Viking Salute to Service
On Sunday, November 23 the Minnesota Vikings honored both current service members and veterans at their game against the Green Bay Packers. MMAF Board members Skip Krawczyk and Barry Winslow presented grants to two service members in a pre-game ceremony that drew a standing ovation from the sellout crowd. The grant recipients included:
- Tech Sergeant Peter Grant
- Master Sergeant Matthew Griffin