EAGAN, Minn. – Every offseason, members of NFL organizations have the opportunity to brighten the days for United States servicemen and women.
ProTour Productions annually plans trips to various U.S. military bases around the world, providing members of the armed forces a unique opportunity to meet and engage with current NFL players, Legends, cheerleaders and mascots.
This year, six Minnesota Vikings cheerleaders embarked on tours to Alaska, Poland, Romania, Curaçao, Cuba and the United Kingdom.
Below are photos and personal accounts (italicized text) from the MVC about their experiences.
Dates: Feb. 1-15
Casey spent two weeks traveling throughout Poland to 11 U.S. Army bases and one U.S. Navy base. Also representing the NFL were Vikings kicker Greg Joseph, Colts cheerleader Kaitlyn and Eagles cheerleader Allegra.
At most bases, we did meet and greets, signed autographs and hosted Q & A panels.
At one base we were able to go mudding in an Army tank! At a couple others, we were able to explore different types of machinery and learn about them from servicemen and women. One of the bases had more Midwesterners than any other, and I chatted with some Green Bay fans for almost the entire time, talking about home and shared Midwest experiences.
I loved spending the Super Bowl on an Army base. Nothing will ever top getting to experience the Super Bowl National Anthem surrounded by U.S. servicemen and women all standing at attention. It was also fun to watch football with and experience a piece of home with these men and women. _
My experience in Poland was so personally impactful, and I could feel it brought joy and a little ease to the servicemen and women, especially with tensions on the rise in Eastern Europe at the time and now knowing what was soon to come.
Dates: Feb. 9-15
Whitney traveled to Romania with Falcons cheerleader Christal and Washington Legends Mike Nelms and Ricky Sanders.
While there, Whitney documented her daily activities diary-style, excerpts of which are below:
Feb. 11: We woke up early and got ready for our first day of appearances at the Navy Defense Missile Base, which was about 5-10 minutes from where we were staying. We received a full tour upon arrival and met the troops. We helped sell candy grams for Valentine's Day, learned how to shoot guns through simulation exercises, and we really bonded quickly with the amazing people at this base!
Feb 12: After practicing our routines with Christal in the morning, we had another full day on the base. We had the opportunity to see more of the base, including their workout space, and ended up having some fitness competition fun. We learned more about how the defense missiles work and the important roles everyone has on the base. We ate dinner on base before enjoying a night of karaoke.
Feb 13-14: Super Bowl Sunday! We spent the morning practicing and getting ready. Because we were eight hours ahead of Central Time back home, the Super Bowl didn't air until 1 a.m. where we were. We left for the base at 3 p.m. to start appearances and record TikTok videos with some of the troops. The pregame party started at 11 p.m. to kick off the night. We performed at halftime and then spent the rest of the night watching the game with the group on base. We ended up staying up until 8 a.m. – pulled an all-nighter! We went back and slept for an hour, then woke up and took COVID-19 tests before heading back to the capital.
Dates: Feb. 7-14
Sydney spent her time in Alaska in two different cities, starting with Anchorage and later traveling to Fairbanks. She was joined by former Vikings receiver Emmanuel (Manny) Arceneaux, former Packers, Panthers and Eagles DB Josh Hawkins; cheerleaders from the Broncos, Colts, Falcons, Seahawks, Ravens and Eagles; Freddie the Falcon, Stanley the Bear and Swoop the Eagle.
"This was the trip of a lifetime, and I'm so happy I had the opportunity to represent the Vikings organization," she said.
One of Sydney's first stops in Anchorage was the Fisher House. The Fisher House Foundation donates "comfort homes" that are built on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers.
Below are excerpts from Sydney's travel diary.
These homes enable family members to be close to a loved one at the most stressful times-during the hospitalization for an unexpected illness, disease or injury. … No family pays to stay at any Fisher House, which is incredible. We met so many families on our visit. Not only did we get the chance to brighten their day, but I'm sure that we have some new Vikings fans. This was one of my favorite moments in Alaska. It felt more than amazing to be able to help take their minds off the stressors in their lives and help them have fun!
Each day we had one cheer/football clinic on the base we were visiting, and kids attended the clinics to either run football drills with the players or learn a dance with the cheerleaders. We had the opportunity to tell the kids what it's like and what is needed to be a NFL cheerleader. We taught them confidence, how to be a team player, to be loud and strong when cheering, and how to have fun! Most of the kids we met had experienced a cheer clinic. It was so much fun brightening their days and putting a smile on their faces.
Boot Camp Workouts
Each morning we woke up bright and early to have a boot camp workout run by Vikings Legend Emmanuel Arceneaux. The workouts were changed up a little each day so that the troops could have a variety of workouts during the week. … We participated in the workouts to help push them through each exercise, and it was a great way to bond with the troops! _
Super Bowl Sunday
Super Bowl Sunday we had the opportunity to meet, greet and get to know a lot of the troops. It was amazing to have a chance to sit down and have a conversation about not only football but about what their everyday lives look like and get to know them on a more personal level. We even had the chance to perform one of our routines and conduct a raffle to win NFL team prizes. Everyone thanked us for coming and said that we had no idea what it meant that we flew out to see them. I'm so happy we had the opportunity to personally thank them for their service.
One day we had the opportunity to see and learn about one of the most expensive and high-tech jets in the world, the F-35. It was so interesting to learn about the different jobs each troop had for a single jet. Unfortunately, we were unable to take pictures with the jets for safety reasons, but we did get to see something most people in the world will never get to see. _
Certification of Appreciation
On our very last day of the trip, we were presented with a certification of appreciation by Brandon S. Jenkins 1SG, USA Garrison Command Sergeant Major and Nathan S. Surrey COL, AV Commanding. It was such an honor to be recognized by the military and appreciated for the impact we had made on various troops and their families. During the week I was in Alaska, I was also honored with a total of three different coins. I was so blessed to be granted with each one by a different member and position in the military. These were key highlights of my trip and made this whole experience so worthwhile. In the end, the troops and their families made a huge impact on us, and I'm tremendously grateful.
MVC: Andrea & Shanyn
Location: United Kingdom
Dates: Feb. 10-15
Andrea and Shanyn had the honor of visiting four Air Force bases in the UK, meeting hundreds of service members and their families, and celebrating the Super Bowl surrounded by brave company.
They were joined by Broncos cheerleaders Lily and Sha'uri, as well as Colts cheerleaders Cassidy and Sammy.
Below is a glimpse into what they experienced during their visit. (Editor's note: Some content was shortened for sake of consistency).
The first base we visited was RAF Croughton. This was a large base with a lot of different departments to visit. We visited the Security Forces building which was, as expected, the most secured location on the base. We were not allowed to have our phones out during this part of the tour. We also visited the post office and the medical facility. It was interesting to learn about what a typical day in their role is like and to hear about their lives and families outside of work, as well.
The next day, we traveled to RAF Fairford. which is the U.S. Air Force's only European airfield for heavy bombers. We also went to a restaurant for "afternoon tea" with our base hosts. … In the evening, we were so excited to finally put on the show we had been working so hard to prepare for everyone on base. We had uniform changes, audience participation, duets, full group dances, and ended with taking pictures with and signing autographs for everyone who came! It was an unforgettable night and hope it brought joy to all those present.
Next, we visited RAF Alconbury. There were more families living long-term on this base than the others. We had the opportunity to lead a cheer clinic with the kids on base ages 3-18. … At the end of the clinic, the cheerleading squad on base that performs at events such as youth basketball games performed for us. It was so fun to watch the pride on their faces as they showed us all of the hard work that they have been putting in. We were so proud of them!
The next day was Super Bowl Sunday, and we were able to spend this special day with RAF Mildenhall. Due to the time zone difference, though, we had to wait until almost midnight for the game! During the day, we were able to visit the local school on base. One of our tourmates actually went to this same school growing up since her dad was in the military and stationed at RAF Mildenhall. It was incredibly inspiring to not only watch her connect with the students there, but for the students to realize that even though it can feel difficult and maybe limiting at times to live on base, that they can dream as big as they want to and achieve anything they set their minds to. Seeing one of our tourmates as real-life proof of that I think was life-changing for many of the students we met that day.
To kick off the night, we performed some of our group routines for the families of RAF Mildenhall. We also took pictures, signed autographs, and said hello and goodbye to all the children who were off to bed long before the game started. … We got to talk with all the service members while we all watched the biggest game of the year together! It was so fun to be in our element and talk everything football with them! We even busted out a move or two with them during the incredible halftime show. It was a high-energy night that we didn't want to end.
On our last day of the tour, we stayed at RAF Mildenhall and visited the Security Forces on this base, as well as the Fire Department. After touring all of the different spaces and jobs within the Fire Department and even trying on some of their (really heavy!) gear, we had them give dancing with poms a try and taught them a TikTok dance that we all performed and recorded at the end of our time there.
We met so many amazing people and were moved by their personal stories and experiences. We are feeling more grateful than we could ever put into words for everything the service members do for our country and for all of the sacrifices they and their families make in the process. We hope we were able to bring some moments of joy to everyone at RAF Croughton, Fairford, Alconbury, and Mildenhall and hope they know how much they touched our lives as well. We also want to thank ProTour Productions and Armed Forces Entertainment for making this tour possible!
Location: Curaçao & Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
Dates: April 24-May 3
Skylar had the opportunity to visit the island of Curaçao and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, along with Rams cheerleader Blake, former Packers, Cardinals and Colts QB Brett Hundley and offensive lineman Ben Garland, who played for the Broncos, Falcons and 49ers.
The first day in Curaçao was spent getting to know everyone and meeting and greeting with military staff. In the short but sweet three days we were in Curaçao, we went to the military base. While there, we got to ride in the fire trucks & sit in the fighter jets. We ended the trip with a radio interview at the station. Aside from our daily responsibilities, the military brought us out snorkeling with turtles, cliff jumping, cave swimming, and much more.
The second half of our ProTour journey was in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where we spent most of our time with the families on the island. We attended multiple command unit visits, where we learned about each of their roles. Something I really enjoyed from this trip was the Coast Guard water tour, where we learned to drive the boats.
I am forever grateful for the opportunity to learn more about the military and their contribution to our country. Without the Vikings, I wouldn't be able to experience Cuba and its diverse culture. I will never forget the people & friendships I've made and the special moments from this incredible trip. _