2024 Events

Tuesday, December 31, 2024

Freedom Run, Minnesota Lake

The 18th annual Freedom Run took place on Saturday, June 18 in Minnesota Lake, with over 75 motorcycles or classic cars participating in a soggy 100-mile ride through scenic south-central Minnesota as a steady rain fell throughout the day. The event kicked off as the Colors were presented by the Wells Honor Guard and a rousing rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner from the Freedom Run’s Shellie Berndt. MMAF Project Director, Joe Bennek, gave an update on the progress of the organization and then presented a plaque to the Freedom Run Board in appreciation of their continued support of Minnesota service members and their families. It was then time to hear from one of those service members, as USMC Major (Ret.) Joel Rauenhorst shared memories from his 24 years as an F-18 pilot. Major Rauenhorst told the crowd that “our country is worth fighting for, don’t give up on who we are or what we are as a nation” and his message resonated with everyone in attendance. The Freedom Run has raised over $315,000 for MMAF since its inception in 2007. Learn more about the Freedom Run.


Twin Cities River Rats Military Appreciation Night, Minneapolis

The Twin Cities River Rats held their annual Military Appreciation Night on Wednesday, July 10, at their home site on the Mississippi River in Minneapolis. Military Night marked the first show the Rats had been able to hold on the river this year, due to high water and a swift current from heavy rain throughout the month of June, creating additional excitement for the evening. The show began with The Star-Spangled Banner a presentation of the colors from the combined 133rd/934th Color Guard. MMAF Project Director, Joe Bennek, addressed the crowd of nearly 1,000 spectators with an update on MMAF’s progress and a message of appreciation to the River Rats for their continued support. The pre-show concluded as MMAF presented a grant check to Lieutenant Colonel Duane Linn for his 34 years of service in the Air National Guard. The River Rats wowed the crowd with their 2024 program, “Ratagascar,” providing laughs and showcasing their many skilled disciplines of water skiing. A special thank you to Amy Nordquist for her hard work putting together the evening and continuing the relationship between the River Rats and MMAF. The River Rats and their supporters have raised $30,000 for MMAF since 2009.


Military Appreciation Day, Minnesota State Fair

MMAF will take part in the Minnesota State Fair’s annual Military Day on Tuesday, August 27. Service members and veterans will have reduced admission to the Fair and MMAF plans to give away hundreds of “Thanks” pins and MMAF-branded cell-phone wallets, in addition to postcards on how to apply for a grant or make a donation.


Minnesota Twins Armed Forces Appreciation Day

The Minnesota Twins and MMAF will recognize grant recipients during Armed Forces Appreciation Day at Target Field on Saturday, September 14. Thank you to the Twins organization for providing a platform to raise awareness for MMAF and their long-time support.


Tomahawk POCI Car Shows

The Tomahawk Chapter of Pontiac-Oakland Club International held a car show on May 18 and will host another show in September at Route 65 Classics in Ham Lake. Proceeds from the classic car shows will be donated to MMAF


Minnesota Vikings Games

In addition to the monetary support the Vikings organization provides to MMAF at its annual appreciation 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.