View images from the 2015 Vikings Children's Fund Golf Tournament.
MAPLE GROVE, Minn. — The Vikings and corporate partners linked greens, good times and an even greater purpose on Wednesday.
Vikings players, alumni and administration joined partners of the team and Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders at Rush Creek Golf Course for the 27th annual golf tournament to benefit the Vikings Children's Fund.
"The money we raise here today is distributed and benefits the numerous Upper Midwest organizations over the fiscal year," Vikings Children's Fund Manager Patrick Leopold said. "It's great to see our alumni, and they get a chance to meet all of our current players, so it's really a collection of our ownership group, our Vikings coaches, executives and current players with our alums. It's really a Vikings family event."
Vikings Owner/Chairman Zygi Wilf opened the event by welcoming the participants.
"I'd like to thank everyone here, all the players, coaches, partners, sponsors and Vikings alumni," Wilf said. "Great day, great weather. I'd like to thank Rush Creek for their hospitality. This is the 27th year of having this event. Our goal today is to raise money for a great cause, the Vikings Children's Fund. Today's goal is also to go out and have a lot of fun. Have a great afternoon and thanks again for your participation in this wonderful cause."
Established in 1978 by combining resources of the Vikings, the corporate community and fans, the Vikings Children's Fund has raised and distributed more than $10 million toward children's health, education and family services, including more than $5 million that has been allocated to research at the University of Minnesota's Department of Pediatrics.
"The Vikings organization does such a great job of reaching out to the Twin Cities community," Rudolph said. "The turnout by players, former players, coaches, trainers and front office members, you get every year for this event shows how much the people around our organization care about the community and care about making a difference, so we have a great opportunity to come out here and raise money for the Vikings Children's Fund and come out on a beautiful day and play golf."
It was the second golf tournament for charity this week for Rudolph and several Vikings. Chad Greenway partnered with the Bohannon Group to host a tournament for Greenway's Lead The Way Foundation on Monday, the same day John Sullivan hosted the Champions for Children Celebrity Golf Classic.
"Four (organized team activity practices), two golf events, so it's definitely a full week, but fatigue can't hurt my golf swing," Rudolph said. "It's not good enough to be affected by fatigue so I'm just out here to have a good time and hopefully hit a couple of good shots while we're out here."
Henry Thomas arrived on a flight from Houston Wednesday morning in order to participate. Thomas is a longtime mainstay of the Arctic Blast snowmobile rally to benefit VCF, but this was his first time at Rush Creek, where he was paired with former running back Ted Brown.
"It's a beautiful course. It sets up great for my game, I've got a great teammate with Ted Brown," Thomas said. "We're ham and egging it pretty good, so we're doing a good job with it. It's great to be able to come up and help with the Vikings Children's Fund. I always have a great time. It's always fun to come back and get such a warm reception from the people that know you or the people that know you or have seen you play, and even the people that haven't have just heard of you.
"When you see that it goes to the kids, they're our future," Thomas said. "When you can help out one, when you see a kid and they say the charities did this for my family and this for me, it makes you feel good that you contributed it and they've done such a good thing with their life."
Mike Crooks, a former Navy SEAL and season ticket holder, has played every year of the golf tournament.
"I've gotten to play with some great Vikings, John Randle, Randall McDaniel, Mike Morris, Leroy Hoard," Crooks said. "This year they gave me two guys, Zach (Line) and Chase Ford, great guys. Every Viking I've played with has been awesome."
General Manager Rick Spielman and Head Coach Mike Zimmer thanked participants during a reception that followed the golf. Spielman played in the tournament, and Zimmer provided an update on what the players have been working on during organized team activity practices.
The team of John Glenn, Marty Moldan, Shawn Greenlee, Pat Millard, Adam Thielen and Harrison Smith won with a 16-under 56.
The team of Tim Vernon, Troy Johnson, Jeff Smith, Kellie Hoiness and Vikings assistant coaches Jonathan Gannon and Jeff Howard finished in second with a 57. The team of Jim Loffler, John Hastings, Todd Sinjem, John Turner, Blair Walsh and Jeff Locke finished third with a 58.