MMAF Display at Historic Fort Snelling Visitor Center
Over Memorial Day weekend, Historic Fort Snelling opened its new Plank Museum and Visitor Center inside of renovated 1904 cavalry barracks. The lobby of the Visitor Center is home to a new MMAF video display that tells the story behind MMAF. It is an interesting look back at its high-profile supporters and growth over the years The display includes a listing of over 800 municipalities where MMAF has mailed grant checks and the names of over 3,000 individual donors who have contributed to MMAF since its inception in 2005. A special thank you to long-time MMAF supporter, Mara Pelecis, for her video production expertise. We encourage everyone to pay a visit to Fort Snelling.
Freedom Run, Minnesota Lake
The 16th annual Freedom Run took place on Saturday, June 18 in Minnesota Lake, with nearly 300 motorcycles or classic cars participating in the 100-mile ride through scenic south-central Minnesota. The pre-ride program included a beautiful rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner from the Freedom Run’s own Shellie Berndt, followed by the awarding of trophies for the “Best Bike” and “Best Car” participating in the ride. The program continued with remarks from MMAF representatives and the presentation of a MMAF grant to LCPL Mark Trnka, of Minnesota Lake. LCPL Trnka shared a few words on the importance of MMAF and supporting veterans. Following the grant presentation, another MMAF grant recipient, SGM Pierre Stencel, shared a patriotic message encouraging Minnesotans to continue to make a difference in the lives of service members and their families. The program concluded with an invocation from Pastor Rudy Maurer and participants enthusiastically headed out on the road.
MMAF Project Director, Joe Bennek commented: “Eugene Sit, our founder, wanted MMAF to be a grassroots effort to support service members and their families, with people from all over the state coming together to say thanks. The Freedom Run truly embodies his vision. MMAF’s simple mission of thanks can make a difference in the lives of service members and their families – and that’s what the Freedom Run continues to do year after year – make a difference.” We offer a special thank you to Lorrie Petersen, Kim Giese, Danny Woitas, Shellie Berndt and the rest of the Freedom Run Board for their long-time support. The Freedom Run has raised over $300,000 for MMAF since its inception in 2007.
Twin Cities River Rats Water Ski Show
The Twin Cities River Rats hosted their annual Military Appreciation show on the banks of the Mississippi River on Tuesday, June 28. During a break in the action on the water MMAF Project Director, Joe Bennek, provided an update on the progress MMAF has made in awarding grants to Minnesota service members and their families. He was joined by Staff Sergeant Zach Husted, an Air Force veteran and grant recipient, who shared his own story of about the impact MMAF has had on his family and why it is important to share and support its mission of “Thanks.” The River Rats raised funds for MMAF during the evening and have contributed nearly $30,000 to MMAF over the years.
Minnesota State Fair Military Appreciation Day
MMAF took part in the Minnesota State Fair’s annual Military Day on Tuesday, August 30. Service members and veterans had a reduced admission price which contributed to the crowd of 112,922 attendees at the fair on Military Day. MMAF gave away hundreds of “Thanks” pins and MMAF-branded cell-phone wallets. Thank you to the many service members who stopped by to learn more about MMAF’s mission or to share their appreciation for receiving a grant.
Minnesota Twins Armed Forces Appreciation Day
The Minnesota Twins and MMAF recognized four grant recipients during Military Day at Target Field on Sunday, September 11. MMAF Co-Founder, General (Retired) Dennis Schulstad, awarded grant checks as part of the pre-game festivities. Grant recipients included Army Sergeant Eric Trudeau of North Branch, Army Specialist Keenan Prigelmeier of Dilworth, Army Sergeant Dakota Sullivan or Randall and Air Force Captain Conner Simms of Minneapolis. Thank you to the Twins for their continued support of MMAF!
Minnesota Vikings Games
In addition to the monetary support the Vikings organization provides to MMAF at its annual fundraising dinner, the Vikings and their season ticket holders continue to donate tickets to MMAF, allowing for hundreds of MMAF grant recipients and their families to attend games. Thank you to the Vikings for their long-time support and for providing great experiences for our grant recipients and their families.