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Vikings Host 2nd Annual 'Vikings Women Day' at Training Camp

The Vikings Women and Matter teamed up with a goal to box 1,000 meals at an event hosted at Verizon Vikings Training Camp in Mankato Saturday.

MANKATO, Minn. –During the second annual "Vikings Women Day" at training camp, fans again teamed up to make a healthy impact on Minnesota youth.

Female fans and their families were invited to partner with the nonprofit MATTER in packing boxes of health-conscious snacks for young people Saturday. By the end of the day, 1,500 snack portions were boxed and ready to be delivered to youth and athletic camps throughout the summer.

Joe Newhouse, MATTER Vice President of Strategy and Innovation, said that the organization appreciates any opportunity to tie-in sports with the concept of healthy eating.

"It makes that connection so much easier and faster for them, and it's exciting," Newhouse said. "If they can have a coach or a player that they look up to talking to them about, 'Hey, the food you put in your body right now is going to affect your performance on the field,' that's something they're going to get really excited about."

Following the team's morning walk-through session, a number of Vikings players also joined the fans in stuffing snack bags. Included in the group were Sam Bradford, Dalvin Cook, Stefon Diggs, Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph, Brian Robison and Kyle Rudolph, among many others.

Newhouse emphasized that building a strong relationship with the Vikings organization and Vikings Women initiative has been significant.

"What's fun about these events is that we get to work with Vikings fans, which are some of the best fans in the country," Newhouse said. "When we can kind of present this opportunity as a really easy, fun, fast way that they can engage and give back, that's such a rewarding experience."

Jami Edwards, wife of Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards, dived in to help facilitate the packing event.

She was impressed at the number of people who joined in the effort and added that she had "never seen a training camp like this."

"The participation, especially the young kids, was awesome," Jami said. "There was a family where the uncle was sitting in the stands watching practice, and there were four children that just kept going through the line, going through the line. To just see the excitement in their eyes, knowing that they were packing something for another child that was less fortunate than them, it was amazing."

Later in the afternoon, Vikings Women hosted an exclusive event where 125 female fans viewed the team's afternoon practice session primarily from the air-conditioned VIP tent while also having a brief opportunity to observe from behind the end zone.

Two female Vikings employees – Vice President of Finance & Controller Kate Shibilski and Director of Football Administration Anne Doepner – gave brief presentations about their respective positions and were on-hand to answer any questions.

"I enjoyed being out here today representing the Vikings," Doepner said. "As a woman working for the team, I especially enjoy engaging with our female fans and hope I can be an example for young girls who may someday want a career in football."

Guests of the sold-out event snacked on appetizers, visited a manicure station and entered drawings for a variety of Vikings memorabilia and prizes. They also could meet and receive autographs from former Vikings defensive end Bob Lurtsema.

When practice concluded, four more surprise guests stopped by.

Vikings defensive backs Anthony Harris, Harrison Smith and Terence Newman, along with rookie receiver Rodney Adams, made an appearance to cap off the event. The players took photos with fans, signed autographs and made time for a brief Q & A.

Tami Hedrick, Director of Women's Initiatives, emphasized the importance of reaching out to and engaging with female supporters of the Vikings.

"If you look at the stats, about 50 percent of our Season Ticket Members and fan base are women," Hedrick said. "Women are very important to the Vikings, and the Vikings value women."

Hedrick added that she's grateful for the camaraderie the initiative has provided.

"I was just talking with a group of ladies that came to our Vikings Pro Camp that we did for women last month. They came out, met each other there, and then five of them drove here today," Hedrick said. "All walks of life, all ages, all life stages – Vikings Women [includes] everybody, so we're just so glad that they're connecting with each other, and it's fun to see."

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