Vikings Owner / President Mark Wilf, Head Coach Brad Childress, linebacker Ben Leber and several members of the team’s front office joined University of Minnesota President Robert H. Bruininks, Dr. Aaron Friedman and other university and community leaders at the University of Minnesota’s Eastcliff Residence on Thursday night to celebrate the 30-year anniversary of the Vikings Children’s Fund partnership with the university’s department of pediatrics and children’s hospital.
Under the stewardship of the Wilf family and with the guidance of Childress, the Vikings organization has seen a steady improvement from a 6-10 record in 2006 to a 10-6 record in 2008 that was highlighted by a division championship. And while on-field results have continued to climb, so too have the philanthropic efforts of the organization.
“The Vikings have a tremendous tradition of civic involvement,” Wilf explained. “This past season, all 53 players on our roster participated in community outreach efforts. This is something of which we are extremely proud.”
The Vikings Children’s Fund (VCF) was established in 1978 and has since raised over $8 million to give back to those in need. In 2007, the VCF donated $170,000 to the University of Minnesota Department of Pediatrics, increasing the total amount donated to $4.5 million.
“This partnership is tremendously important to the Vikings organization and to my family and our ownership group,” Wilf said. “The VCF is a means for Vikings players, coaches, cheerleaders, staff and their families to focus their community support to help those in need.”
Thursday’s event included a reception with appetizers and beverages followed by a brief program, which included remarks from Wilf, President Bruininks and Dr. Friedman. At the conclusion of the event, President Bruininks closed with a few more remarks and a toast.
“Thanks, Mark, and to all of you for joining us for a celebration at Eastcliff this evening,” President Bruininks remarked to close the event. “It is our way of acknowledging the wonderful partnership with the Minnesota Vikings and the Vikings Children’s Fund and their funding of our pediatric scientists as they search for the causes and cures for childhood disease.”
President Bruininks mentioned that despite the unusually challenging times the nation is facing currently, the University of Minnesota is well-positioned for success. He also said the relationship between the Vikings and the University of Minnesota is one example of how partnerships can work to improve society and children’s health.
Childress, who is on the board of the Vikings Children’s Fund, said “Anytime you can do something for kids, whether it’s special needs kids – my daughter teaches special needs – (it’s a good thing). We’re more fortunate and it’s easy for us to give back.”
— During his remarks, Mark Wilf congratulated President Bruininks on being chosen Executive of the Year by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.
— The VCF holds several events annually, with one of the most notable being “Arctic Blast” in central Minnesota. The 14th Annual Minnesota Vikings Arctic Blast Snowmobile Rally will be held at Lake Mille Lacs this Saturday and Sunday, February 7-8.