MINNEAPOLIS –Chad Greenway's daughters spend their Sundays during the football season cheering for dad. This week, Greenway flipped the tables and cheered on his girls.
Sunday marked Greenway's 10th annual Gridiron Gallop 5K Walk/Run, and all three of his daughters participated in the fun run, along with nearly 100 other kids.
Greenway's 8-year-old daughter, Maddyn, led the pack across the finish line. Like father, like daughter, Maddyn loves sports and especially enjoys playing basketball with Greenway and spending time with him on the lake during the offseason.
"My favorite thing is when he pushes us off the boat," Maddyn said.
Beckett, 5 years old, said she loves that her dad plays football. It seems she vividly remembers Greenway's 91-yard interception and return last season, saying her favorite thing is "helping him get touchdowns."
"He's always playing with me and having fun with me," Beckett added.
Greenway said the goal of the Gridiron Gallop when he and his wife, Jenni, first started it was to be a family-friendly event. Greenway's late father used to participate in the day, and his mother was there Sunday to take part as well.
"This thing is awesome – we love the 5K," Greenway said. "It's just big enough to raise some money for Minneapolis Park and Rec, but at the same time, it's a small family environment and atmosphere. We see a lot of the same families – a lot of the families that we've worked with at the hospitals are here.
"The Vikings do such a great job of supporting us all the time," Greenway added. "It's so fun to see the fans in a different capacity than just football. It's [great] to see the passion they have."
The Gridiron Gallop has become a family affair for more than just the Greenways, and it's a fitting event to be held on Father's Day.
Father-and-son duo Ty and Caleb Stevens are originally from Minnesota and now make the 1,070-mile trip from Asheville, North Carolina, to run Greenway's 5K together.
"We've been big fans of the Vikings, and it's become something special to do each year," said Ty. "It's fun that it's on Father's Day, and Caleb gets to meet some of the players."
Caleb, 13, and his dad finished the route this year in just over 23 minutes, a minute faster than last year's run. Caleb said his favorite part was pulling ahead at the finish line.
"I got to dust him at the end," Caleb said, laughing.
Vikings running backs coach Kevin Stefanski also attended the event with his three children and ran the 5K with Vikings Assistant GM George Paton.
"What a great time to celebrate dads and families," Stefanski said. "It's an important event to Chad, and Chad's so big in our community and so important to our team, so I just think it's a great opportunity to support his [Lead the Way] foundation."
Greenway and his foundation partnered with the Minneapolis Parks and Rec team 10 years ago and started the Gridiron Gallop as a way to raise money for scholarships granted to inner-city students unable to afford the cost of youth sports. A number of organizations also sponsored this year's event, including Cargill and Aspire Beverages.
Mimi Kalb, Director of Athletic Programs, Aquatics and Ice Arenas, said Sunday's event had the largest number of runners to date. Over 400 participants pre-registered for the race, and a large number of individuals also registered day-of.
Greenway personally sounded the starting horn for both the fun run and the 5K. The linebacker posted up at the 5K finish line to offer high-fives and encouragement for runners as they crossed.
Following the race, runners, families and fans alike mingled with the players before the awards ceremony. Each child who participated in the fun run received a medal, and Greenway handed out a number of prizes for 5K category winners as well as drawing names for several autographed items and gift cards.
Greenway was joined by former Vikings Dave Osborn, Dave Dixon and Ryan Hoag as well as teammate Kyle Rudolph.
"They couldn't have gotten a better day for the race," said Rudolph, who spent the morning signing autographs and taking photos with fans. "Any time I have the opportunity to support any of teammates, but especially Chad – the things he does for us and the community here in the Twin Cities – I make sure to get out here and support."
Greenway said he was impressed with the crowd the Gridiron Gallop gathered this year and considered it a great start to Father's Day. As for Greenway's plans for the rest of the afternoon? He was back on the field of course… coaching his daughter's baseball game.