Say Thanks Day
Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund held its fourteenth annual “Say Thanks Day” on Saturday, August 25 at Northern Star Scouting Base Camp at Fort Snelling. The morning brought moderate temperatures and enthusiastic participants ready to show their appreciation for Minnesota’s service members and their families. More than 300 people came out to enjoy family-friendly activities, live music and to take part in the walk and 5K run.
Congratulations to the top 5K competitors in each age category:
17 and Under: Cullen Feist and Cora Adam
18 – 35: Nathan Martinez and Sydney Eckert
36 – 50: Matt McCoy and Kathryn Wyatt
51 – 65: Shaun Stevens and Candy Dreshar
66 and Over: Rob Ogren
Participants began arriving before 8:00 a.m. to the beat of 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.
Event emcee and MMAF Board Member Barry Winslow 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. More than 100 runners moved to the starting line at 9:00. A few minutes later, more than 150 walkers made their way to the starting line and began the mile walk.
Winslow opened the post-race program by introducing MMAF Chair Roger Sit, who gave a brief recap on the current grant totals and the important milestones MMAF has reached in the past year. Roger was joined on stage by Army Private First Class John Adamic, of Stillwater, who received a grant for injuries he sustained in Iraq. PFC Adamic thanked shared a brief message with the crowd and thanked those in attendance for their support for him, and for his fellow veterans and service members.
Roger announced that the grant check to PFC Adamic marked a milestone — with his grant, more than $11 million dollars have now been awarded to Minnesota’s service members and families on behalf of MMAF. Barry then returned to the stage to recognize the winners of the 5K run, who received tickets to an upcoming Minnesota Wild game and awarded door prizes of Gopher Hockey, Gopher Basketball, Minnesota Twins and St. Paul Saints tickets to participants who registered in advance of race day. Upon conclusion of the program, participants took turns climbing the Minnesota Army National Guard’s portable rock climbing wall, climbing on the Base Camp Ropes Course, bouncing on inflatable bounce houses and admiring the Red Bull Historic Military Vehicles Association’s display.
A special thanks to event sponsors: Sit Investment Associates, Federated Insurance, TDS Inc., The William Cooper Foundation, Atomic Data and the Wealth Enhancement Group. MMAF also thanks Northern Star Scouting and Base Camp for allowing Say Thanks Day to take place at its beautiful location, and the Emerson Avenue Band for creating a festive atmosphere with its outstanding music.
Freedom Run, Minnesota Lake
The 2018 Freedom Run took place on Saturday, June 16 in Minnesota Lake, Minn. Thunderstorms rolled through Southern Minnesota early that morning, but the weather did not stop more than 200 motorcycles and classic cars from taking part in the 100 mile rally. After a pre-race kickoff that included a stirring rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” sung by Shelly Berndt, the riders headed out for what turned into a gorgeous afternoon. Upon returning to Minnesota Lake, participants enjoyed live entertainment from the SwitchRoad Band, a hog roast, bean bag tournament, live auction and prizes. Proceeds from the event totaled more than $20,000—which means that over the years the Freedom Run has raised more than $200,000 total for MMAF. Thank you!
The Patriot Ride
The 13th annual Patriot Ride took place on Saturday, June 30 at the Anoka County Airport in Blaine, Minn. More than 3,000 riders participated in the 50 mile ride to show their support for Minnesota’s service members and their families. Participants enjoyed live music, the Donnie Smith Bike Show and a demonstration from the St. Paul Police Department. Eric Lundquist, a Navy SEAL and MMAF Steering Committee member, shared how his personal experiences as a SEAL translate into his civilian life. The crowd was moved by a presentation by Diana Beardsley, whose son, SSG William J. Beardsley paid the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq in 2007. She shared the experiences her family has undergone over the last decade, and board member Skip Krawczyk awarded her family a $5,000 grant check on behalf of MMAF. The Patriot Ride has raised nearly $500,000 for MMAF over the years — we are honored and humbled to be a recipient of this support, and again, we say thank you.
Minnesota Twins Armed Forces Appreciation Day
The Minnesota Twins Military Appreciation Day took place on Sunday, August 8, as the Twins took on the Baltimore Orioles. MMAF Co-Founder, General Dennis Schulstad, awarded grant checks to Marine Corporal Benjamin Bengasser, of Nowthen, and Marine Lance Corporal Bryan Bodrog, of River Falls during the pregame festivities. The grant recipients and their families then enjoyed a beautiful Sunday afternoon — and the Twins defeated the Orioles!
Leech Lake Area Ride for Vets
The 8th annual Leech Lake Area Ride for Veterans took place on Saturday, August 18. The ride began at the Walker Area American Legion Post 134 and took participants on a 100 mile ride through the Walker area. MMAF’s own Cheri Ford spoke as part of the post-ride program and awarded a grant check to Marine Sergeant Justin Laurs, of Grand Rapids. This year’s ride raised more than $5,000, bringing the eight-year total from this annual ride to nearly $50,000 raised for MMAF.
Twin Cities River Rats Water Ski Show
The Twin Cities River Rats hosted its 10th annual Military Appreciation show at its Minneapolis home site on the Mississippi River on Tuesday, July 10. The Rats put on another outstanding performance as the group barefoot skied, ski-jumped and built human pyramids on the river. MMAF Executive Director, Kelly Boston, spoke to the crowd of more than 1,500 spectators and explained that many of those performing for the Rats have served in the military and have received grants from MMAF over the last decade. Proceeds from the evening totaled more than $3,000 for MMAF— that’s more than $20,000 over the last ten years. Thanks, Twin Cities River Rats!
Minnesota State Fair Military Appreciation Day
The Minnesota State Fair held its annual Military Appreciation Day on Tuesday, August 28, providing MMAF a unique opportunity to interact with service members and their families. Pouring rain and the occasional clap of thunder didn’t stop Fairgoers from visiting the MMAF booth and picking up a MMAF branded reusable grocery bag. It was great to meet many veterans who had received grants from MMAF and to share information about the organization to service members and veterans who plan to apply for a grant. We encourage all Minnesota veterans and their families to consider applying — and want to share the news with every veteran.