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Huddle Event Inspires Women of the Vikings

Posted Dec 16, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS — The Women of the Vikings huddled up this week for an evening that included inspirational messages from philanthropist Jenni Greenway and entrepreneur Kristen Brown, who launched her own motivational speaking business after overcoming tragedy.

Jenni Greenway was able to talk about the work that she and her husband, Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway, have done to help critically and chronically ill children in the Upper Midwest through their “Lead the Way” Foundation (chadgreenway.org).

The foundation established Chad’s Locker programs in seven hospitals to provide patients and family members with technology libraries to make their stays better. In addition to patients having their spirits lifted, parents have been able to stay connected to their work or continue their education because of the technology.

The foundation also has held “Field of Dreams” adventures for families, including one at Mall of America in spring of 2015, as well as annual “TendHER Heart” luncheons where mothers of sick children are pampered for a few hours away from constant worries. The luncheons include open mic sessions for mothers to share their struggles and realize they aren’t the only ones alone.

“Sometimes it’s happy and sometimes we’re all laughing and the whole room is cracking up,” Greenway explained. “The next time, maybe it might be a mom who just recently lost her child, and the whole room is crying.

“All of these moms have a connection that we don’t even try to understand,” she continued. “We’re so thankful to have four healthy girls and to not have to be in that situation, but we want to give them the platform to find each other and have a little network.”

Greenway said that one mother was enabled to use social networking to locate a kidney for her son after three failed transplants.

“We want to make as much of an impact in the next 11 years as we have in this 11 years,” Greenway vowed.

Brown’s life also was forever changed by a medical problem. Her husband suffered a heart attack in his sleep, and his passing left her as a single mom with a 10-month old.

“I was widowed nine years ago with a 10-month-old baby while in a corporate leadership role,” Brown explained to Vikings.com. “That was the most stressed I have ever been, and that’s what led me to do what I do now, so after 15 years of corporate experience, I ended up starting my own business called Happy Hour Effect.

“You have to decide for yourself that you want to rise up when bad things happen,” Brown continued, “whether you’re going through stress, whether it’s something big like losing someone, a health problem, a divorce, whether it’s little things like a Minnesota snowstorm.”

Asked what helped her make it through such a difficult and heartbreaking time, Brown said, “having an anchor, having something that kept me grounded and kept me saying, ‘I need to move forward.’

“For me, that was my daughter,” Brown said. “She was 10 months old at the time, and I knew I never wanted her to look back and say, ‘My mom was so sad,’ or ‘My mom was so depressed.’ I wanted her to say, ‘Oh, my God, my mom was amazing,’ despite this thing that happened to me, so whatever it is for you individually. Maybe your job is inspiring and you’re helping people, maybe it’s your kids, maybe it’s your spouse, maybe it’s health and you want to be really healthy, but finding the anchor that motivates you to want to change, to want to be better, to want to live that vision you have for your life.”

Brown, who is based in the Twin Cities, has written two best-selling books, The Happy Hour Effect and The Best Worst Thing. She has appeared on Live with Kelly & Michael, joining Kelly Ripa and former host and NFLer Michael Strahan, and is a frequent speaker.

Brown shared part of her research and described what she has found effective when juggling obligations, equating the scenario to a conductor of a symphony.

“You have to be able to prioritize and juggle when things aren’t important,” Brown said. “I say the work-life balance is a myth. It’s more about work-life integration and how you make them play nicely together.”

Upon arriving at the dinner, the Women of the Vikings packed boxes of nutritional foods that will be distributed by Minnesota-based nonprofit Matter.

Matter Vice President of Development Laura Fixsen said the boxes, along with the surplus created when Vikings fans helped before the Nov. 20 game against the Cardinals will be distributed to those in need during a tri-location “Community Health Day” hosted by Southside Community Services. Other boxes last month were distributed to eight Salvation Army locations in the Twin Cities.

“The quarterly team huddles with the Women of the Vikings have been nice times to connect and a good time for us to have an inspiring speaker come in,” said Director of Women’s Initiatives and MVC Head Coach Tami Krause. “We really feel like we’re sort of taking it to the next level with this event because we had that time to pause and connect, but we were also able to do some community service through the event and talk about how that service is going to have a ripple effect.

“It was also great to hear from other women in our organization and support each other and hear from Jenni Greenway about their foundation and potential ways we can help support her,” Krause added. “Having Kristen come in and give a presentation that’s inspiring and empowering, it was wonderful to hear that lots of women took the information and have put it to use.”