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Annual 'Page Education Foundation' Gala Benefits Minnesota Students

The 2017 gala, held at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sept. 9, celebrated the accomplishments of former and current Page Scholars while also raising funds for future scholarship recipients.

MINNEAPOLIS – Hall of Fame defensive end Alan Page is recognized as a celebrity, but his annual Page Education Foundation Gala was focused far from him.

The 2017 gala, held at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sept. 9, celebrated the accomplishments of former and current Page Scholars while also raising funds for future scholarship recipients.

During their address to the guests, Page and his wife, Diane Sims-Page, each referred to the numerous scholars in attendance as "heroes."

"They're individuals we can look up to; they're people who create hope for a brighter future," Page told Vikings.com. "On the football field, you have your heroes because they create hope for a better game, a better team. In the game of life, creating hope for a better future, to me is pretty important. And our Page Scholars do that."

Amidst the crowd of gussied-up guests were several college-aged students who wore purple T-shirts – with a white, screen-printed bowtie on the front and Page's jersey No. 88 on the back – that deesignated them as Page Scholars. Serving as volunteers for the evening, many expressed gratitude to the Page family for its continued support of Twin Cities youth.

One such scholarship recipient was Abigail Andrade-Flores, currently in her first semester at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. Still exploring possible majors, she is leaning toward engineering, the medical field or possibly even a career in politics.

"I'm hoping to be an example for Latinas who are interested in STEM-related careers," Andrade-Flores said. "I'm just really excited to represent this group of people, and I hope to be somebody's [role] model someday."

She added that Page's generosity and longtime commitment to education has given her "hope in humanity."

"I just realize that in society, there are some people who are really paying it forward. They care about the future generation, and it's so touching that [the Page Foundation] is able to support some people who weren't able to financially have these opportunities," Andrade-Flores said. "I'm just amazed to know that he had that goodness and kindness in his heart."

Twenty-eight years ago, Page Grants were first awarded to 10 students. This year, 536 scholarships were awarded. According to the foundation's website, more than 1,000 students apply for Page Grants annually, and 6,500 grants have been awarded to 4,200 students since the foundation was established in 1988.

Page Grants are awarded to Minnesota students of color who attend Minnesota post-secondary schools and agree to complete annual service projects with young children. Students at all levels of academic achievement can qualify for a grant.

Diane Sims-Page called it "heart-warming" to see and talk to so many former scholarship recipients who completed their education and went on to successful careers.

"When Alan and I are out and about in town, people come up to us and say, 'I was a former Page Scholar.' Or I hand my credit card to somebody at the gas station, and they'll say, 'I was a former Page Scholar,' " she said. "And it warms my heart. I'm very proud."

Travis Logan was a Page Scholar from 1992-96 and attended the gala Saturday night. Logan said he had the opportunity to meet Page 25 years ago upon receiving the grant and was honored to see him continuing – and growing – his efforts.

"I finished with the University of St. Thomas here in the Twin Cities, went on through my whole professional career and kept staying in touch with the Page Foundation," Logan said. "It's just amazing that he's so committed to it and for so long. It's not something that was just a one-time flash – I was '92-'96, so look how many years it is now. It's just amazing."

Page said the "whole purpose" of the Page Education Foundation is to create opportunities for Minnesotans.

"When you see them years later, having done exactly what you'd hoped for, it doesn't get much better," Page said. "You can't ask for much more."

Page, who played for the Vikings from 1967-78, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988 and went on to serve as a Minnesota Supreme Court Judge from 1993-2015. Page was joined at the gala by friends and colleagues from throughout his career journey, including fellow Purple People Eater Carl Eller. 

Eller, also in the Hall of Fame, said the event is one he looks forward to attending every year.

"Alan's done such a great job with his Page scholars; it's just fantastic. Any little bit that I can contribute to that is just absolutely great," Eller said. "Even if it weren't such a great cause, you know, Alan and I played together … we're just such great friends still, that it's just always fun to get together."

Eller added that while he isn't surprised at Page's dedication to the community, his post-football career was one-of-a-kind.

"He's followed his own path, blazed his own path, and we're just here to witness it," Eller said with a smile. "And I'm glad that I was able to witness it from the very beginning."

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