EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Mike Zimmer Foundation has steadily made an impact in the Twin Cities in recent years by annually awarding college scholarships and hosting a free youth football camp.
But the signature fundraising moment for the Vikings head coach and his family came Monday as the foundation hosted the inaugural Mike Zimmer Golf Classic at Bearpath Country Club.
Dozens of current and former Vikings players came together to hit the links and help support their coach so that his foundation can soon make an even bigger imprint in Minnesota.
“We’ve got a great day here for golf,” Zimmer said. “It’s a lot of work for a golf tournament like this and get everything together with the sponsors and the players.
“For us to be able to come out here, do this and have people enjoy themselves and to give back to the community, [it’s great],” Zimmer later added.
Monday’s festivities capped off an impressive stretch for Zimmer’s foundation which also hosted a pre-party Saturday night at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.
While attendees could bid in a silent auction for autographed Vikings items and other memorabilia, Zimmer said the highlight was meeting the two high school students who were recently awarded $10,000 scholarships from his foundation.
Zimmer called Bloomington Jefferson senior Samantha Sunnarborg and Zumbrota-Mazeppa's Jacob Bennett to deliver the news.
“It was really fun because they didn’t know I was going to call. They stuttered a little bit as they got the call, and I told them who it was,” Zimmer said. “To be able to do something like that and help people further their education, it’s a fun thing.”
Corri Zimmer White, Zimmer’s daughter, added: “That’s the fun part of it. One of the kids, Jacob, was just speechless and could barely put together words. My dad thought it was so funny. Especially with the camp, he’s just so great with the kids. He really enjoys that side of being personable and getting to use his platform to do some good stuff.”
Between Saturday’s pre-party and Monday’s golf tournament, the foundation is expected to be in position to make a big mark in the Twin Cities.
“We’ll probably be close or a little over $100,000,” Zimmer White said. “We’re really excited about that. Our plan is that we really want to make a room at a children’s hospital in honor of my mom. That’s something we’re trying to do and what the money will go toward.”
The foundation’s focus is to honor Vikki Zimmer, who passed away unexpectedly in October of 2009.
Zimmer credited Corri with organizing the event and heaped praise on his daughter for the impact she had made.
“That’s why we started it, because [Vikki] was a very sweet, giving and caring woman,” Zimmer said. “She was always trying to help … and I think that trickled down to my kids.”
“[Corri is] definitely the real hero,” Zimmer added. “She’s gone above and beyond everything here and has done a great job with the foundation.”
Current Vikings players such as Kirk Cousins, Adam Thielen, Kyle Rudolph and Harrison Smith were in attendance, while former Vikings such as John Randle, Rich Gannon, Doug Sutherland and Leo Lewis were also on-hand.
Spielman and Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf were also at Bearpath to support Zimmer.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and his family host the first Mike Zimmer Golf Tournament in benefit of his foundation on Monday.
Rudolph said the Vikings are fortunate to have a leader like Zimmer who emphasizes the importance of giving back.
“It’s awesome what Coach Zimmer and his foundation have established here in the Twin Cities, coming out and raising money for scholarships,” Rudolph said. “The importance of scholarships and education is huge, so for Coach Zimmer and his family foundation to put so much emphasis into scholarships and the future, I say it all the time when I’m talking about the kids we’re working with.
“Kids are the future of our world, and scholarships are going to empower these kids to have the knowledge to be the next president, the next doctor, the next lawyer, so it’s incredible, and that’s part of the reason why it’s such a big turnout here today,” Rudolph added.
The weekend wasn’t the first step for Zimmer’s foundation, but it might have been the biggest.
And with so much more left to do, the Zimmer family hopes to positively impact Minnesota for years to come.
“Being able to do it in my mom’s name always adds so much more to it,” Zimmer White said. “Each year, the foundation keeps getting bigger and growing and making more of an impact in the community. It’s been really exciting to see.
“She’d be thrilled and wouldn’t believe this is all in her honor,” Zimmer White added. “I think she had something to do with this beautiful weather here today.”