2015 Events and Publicity Recap

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Events and Publicity Recap


Saturday, September 12

Say Thanks Day

Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund held its annual Say Thanks Day event on Saturday, September 12, 2015. It took place at the Boy Scout Base Camp at Fort Snelling. The 11th 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 on a beautiful morning with temperatures in the upper 50s 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, TDS Inc. and the Harding High School Junior ROTC program. KFAN FM’s Dan Barreiro was the event emcee. he 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 and four T6 Texan aircraft flew over the site in a missing-man formation. Nearly 200 runners moved to the starting line at 9:00. A few minutes later, more than 500 walkers made their way to the starting line and began to walk the two-mile route.

Walkers and runners returned to more 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.

Dan Barreiro opened the post-race program and alerted participants to look to the sky to see the Patriot Parachute Team descend 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 then gave a brief recap on the current grant totals and the important milestones MMAF has reached in the past year. 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, TCF Bank, Atomic Data, Morrie’s Automotive Group, iHeartMedia, Nelson Tietz and Hoye, Coldwell Banker-Burnett, Bank of America, B & F Fastener, The Frauenshuh Companies, 7Up/Snapple and Cub Foods. MMAF also thanks 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 11th Annual Say Thanks Day. We appreciate your support of Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund and look forward to seeing you again for our 12th Say Thanks Day event in September of 2016.

MMAF sees Say Thanks Day as an opportunity to show appreciation to veterans of all generations along with those who are currently serving. As part of the event this year, we were excited to host The Wall That Heals, a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. The exhibit includes a mobile education center comprised of photos of service members whose names are found on The Wall, letters and memorabilia left at The Wall in D.C., and a map and chronological overview of the conflict in Vietnam.

The Wall was escorted from the Minnesota/Wisconsin border by nearly 50 Patriot Guard riders and arrived at Base Camp on Wednesday, September 9..A dedicated group of volunteers which included local recruiters for the U.S. Navy assembled the memorial. Once assembled, the Wall was open for viewing 24 hours a day for the duration of its stay in Minnesota.

The official opening ceremony to welcome the Wall took place on Thursday, September 10, with MMAF Chairman Roger Sit thanking members of the Vietnam Veteran Memorial Fund (VVMF) for bringing the Wall to the Twin Cities. MMAF Board Member and Vietnam Veteran Barry Winslow shared his perspective on what it meant to host the Wall, and General Jon Jensen shared a message of gratitude from the Minnesota National Guard. General (Ret.) Larry Shellito, Minnesota Commissioner of Veterans Affairs, shared comments on the climate of the nation when he and other Vietnam Veterans returned from combat and how that experience has altered the way that current troops are welcomed home from conflict. General Shellito’s message resonated with those in attendance and shed a great light on the importance of MMAF and veterans organizations that support those who have sacrificed on behalf of our country.

On Friday, September 11, a Reading of the Names Ceremony recognized the 1075 Minnesotans who perished in Vietnam. More than 30 participants — including local veterans, family members of Vietnam vets and supporters of MMAF —took turns reading the names of the Minnesotans on the Wall. A photo of each service member was displayed on screens as his or her name was read, a first for the VVMF as they have collected photos of all 1075 Minnesotans on the Wall. The ceremony had a great impact on all those in attendance, especially for those whose family members or friends names were read.

A short closing ceremony was held at 5:00 on Sunday, September 13, and the Wall was then disassembled by a large group of volunteers. More than 6,300 people visited the Wall in the five days it was in Minnesota, a larger than normal crowd for a metropolitan area. MMAF would like to thank the many volunteers who assisted visitors at Base Camp.


Saturday, June 20

9th Annual Freedom Run, Minnesota Lake

The 9th annual Freedom Run took place on Saturday, June 20, 2015 in the town of Minnesota Lake. Hundreds of motorcycles participated in the 100 mile ride to show appreciation for Minnesota’s military personnel and their families. The Freedom Run has raised over $125,000 for MMAF over the past nine years. Proceeds from the ride go to Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund.


Sunday, July 12

Minnesota Twins Military Day, Target Field

MMAF honored four Minnesota military service members with grants at the Minnesota Twins Military Appreciation Game on Sunday, July 12 against the Detroit Tigers. All four Minnesota service members had received Purple Heart for injuries sustained in combat: Army Specialist Joshua Sams of Hanover, Army Specialist Marco Solt of Brooklyn Center, Army Sergeant Joseph Devon of Minneapolis and Army Specialist Richard Smith of Elko. Thanks to everyone for helping us to honor these heroes at the game.


August – September 2015

WCCO More Than Names Campaign

WCCO believed our troops deserve a record-breaking show of gratitude, and that’s why we created “More Than Names,” an Accomplish MN campaign launched to recognize and support our military members and their families. Minnesotans all across the state stepped up and signed a 102-by-76 foot flag, a flag large enough for more than 150,000 names. Everyone who signed will be part of the world record for most signatures on a flag.

But saying “Thank You” is only half of the campaign. The other half is support. More Than Names is a fundraiser for Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund and contributed $XXX to support Minnesota troops and their families..


Tuesday, August 25

Twin Cities River Rats Water Ski Show Team

The Twin Cities River Rats hosted their 7th Annual Military Appreciation show in Minneapolis on August 25th, a week later than originally planned due to severe weather. The Rats put on another outstanding performance as they barefoot skied, ski-jumped, built human pyramids and performed to a crowd of nearly 1,000 people. The event raised more than $2,000 for MMAF this year.


Saturday, August 22

Leech lake Area Ride for Vets – Walker American Legion Post 134, Walker, MN

The 5th Annual Leech Lake Area Ride for Veterans took place on Saturday, August 22, 2015 at the Walker American Legion Post 134. The 100 mile ride raised awareness for veterans while also raising funds for MMAF. Nearly 100 bikes took part in the ride that has raised nearly $20,000 for MMAF over the past three years.


Tuesday, August 25

Military Appreciation Day at the Minnesota State Fair

The Minnesota State Fair held its annual Military Appreciation Day on Tuesday, August 25 as veterans and current service members and their families received discounted admission into the fairgrounds. MMAF encouraged those who stopped by the booth to sign a panel of the More Than Names Flag and handed out information about The Wall That Heals and Say Thanks Day. Hundreds of t-shirts and “Thanks” pins were also distributed.


November 2015

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 last 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 McCabes 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 of some of our Minnesota heroes. The grant recipients included the following veterans:

  • Sergeant Miranda Allison – North Branch
  • Staff Sergeant Marcus Allen – Brooklyn Park
  • Staff Sergeant Jon Attia – Champlin
  • Specialist Vic Girling – Northfield
  • Sergeant Michael Hess – Mendota Heights
  • Staff Sergeant Kelly Hill – Minneapolis
  • Tech Sergeant Shelley Koen – Kasson
  • Sergeant First Class Naomi Martin – Lake Elmo
  • Senior Airman Janna Pearson – Lino Lakes
  • Staff Sergeant Simon Rutherford – Little Canada
  • Major Nick Swaggert – Excelsior
  • Specialist Chanelle Thomas – Plymouth
  • Sergeant Justin Turner – Lino Lakes
  • Private First Class Kendall Watson – Anderson – Bloomington


Sunday, November 8

Minnesota Viking Salute to Service

On Sunday, November 8, 2015, the Minnesota Vikings honored both current service members and veterans at their game against the St. Louis Rams. 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:

  • Sergeant First Class Deric Williams – Buffalo
  • Staff Sergeant Andrew Walker – Maple Grove