Retired U.S. Navy SEALS Lt. Lawrence Yatch and SO1 Eric Davis highlighted a memorable night in support of our Minnesota service members on Tuesday, March 25, 2014. The retired SEALS joined more than 400 other guests to show support for Minnesota’s service members and their families at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Bloomington. Efforts from the evening raised more than $500,000.
The evening began with a question and answer session between Lt. Yatch and SO1 Davis, moderated by MMAF Co-Founder Skip Krawczyk. This intimate session allowed some of MMAF’s largest donors the opportunity to hear about covert operations, terms of engagement and current world affairs, from the perspective of two elite combat specialists.
The evening’s main 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 34th Infantry Division Honor Guard posted colors as choir members from VocalEssence, conducted by Philip Brunelle, sang the Star Spangled Banner and Armed Forces Medley. Chaplain Philip Winn, Jr. gave an invocation and invited General John W. Vessey, Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to the stage. General Vessey provided insight to the current state of the U.S. military and emphasized the fact that veterans’ organizations like MMAF are needed now more than ever. Roger Sit, MMAF Chair, updated guests on the progress the organization has made since inception in 2005 and reiterated that the mission of MMAF will continue until all Minnesotans have returned from hostile soil.
After a short break for dinner, guests were introduced to Boyd Francisco, father of Specialist Kristopher Francisco, who shared the viewpoint of a father with a son deployed abroad. Mr. Francisco, along with his wife Lori, considered themselves blessed to have two sons, Kristopher and Benjamin, who proudly serve their country. Kristopher Francisco joined his father on stage with a message of “thanks” to all supporters in attendance.
The evening’s co-keynote speakers, Lt. Yatch and SO1 Davis, addressed the crowd with stories of their personal reasons for joining the SEALS and the intense training they received. Using now declassified photos and footage, Lt. Yatch and SO1 Davis described a particular covert operation and illustrated the teamwork necessary to complete the mission. Hearing former Navy SEALS describe their experiences was fascinating.
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 MMAF, as event expenses were underwritten by the main sponsor, Sit Investment Associates.