When 2020 began, MMAF was very excited to work with many groups that have supported the organization over the last fifteen years. That excitement quickly turned to apprehension about the ability to gather together and disappointment as COVID-19 forced the cancelation of our own Appreciation Dinner and Block Party, along with the Freedom Run, Twin Cities River Rats Military Night, Leech Lake Ride for Veterans and all of the other events that in-person events we love. We appreciate all of the hard work that went into these events prior to their cancellations and we hope that they are able to take place in 2021.
On Friday, May 15, we surpassed 18,000 grants to Minnesota service members, pushing us past $12 million in funds disbursed since MMAF was founded in 2005. We were very proud to help our men and women in uniform, especially during a time this year when funds were needed by so many. Longtime MMAF supporter and dinner emcee Tom Hauser virtually interviewed Sergeant Ryan Baer, MMAF’s 18,000th grant recipient, on how the pandemic has impacted our service members and veterans. The video, which can be found on our website and social media channels, helped shed light on how the MMAF grant was a life-saver for many during the March-May shutdown.
The Patriot Ride
2020 was also supposed to mark the final year of the Patriot Ride, which has raised over $500,000 for MMAF over its previous fourteen years. When it became evident that the final Patriot Ride could not take place, event organizers switched gears to ask participants to organize their own, smaller rides, in their own communities. The Virtual Patriot Rides took place over the final weekend in July, providing closure for those who had participated in the event for many years. MMAF would like to thank the Minnesota Patriot Guard and Dennis Kirk, especially Bob Behan and Tammy Becklin, for their continued support of Minnesota service members and their families. We will miss the Patriot Ride, but we will have the memories of what was annually one of Minnesota’s most patriotic events.
From August 1, through September 30, MMAF held a mail-in fundraising campaign encouraging supporters to make a contribution and receive a Thanks pin, mask and T-shirt. The campaign brought support from all over the state. The campaign also prompted grant applications as supporters encouraged service members and veterans they know to apply for MMAF grants. MMAF supporters, including employees from Federated Insurance (pictured) wore their MMAF gear with pride in their communities.
2020 was a difficult year for many reasons, but we are a resilient state filled with hard working and compassionate people, and we look forward to coming together again in 2021 to continue our mission of saying “Thanks” to Minnesota’s veterans, service members and their families.