EAGAN, Minn. – New location, same successful effort.
More than 200 female fans of all ages took part in the Vikings Women VIP event at Verizon Vikings Training Camp last week.
The event featured an opportunity to view practice from an air-conditioned tent and enjoy food and beverage; before the entertainment portion of the day, however, fans were invited to give back to the community.
Vikings Women partnered with local nonprofit **MATTER**, and fans took time to pack boxes of nonperishable "snack packs" for youth. According to MATTER Program Development Director Karen Manikowski, the snack packs will be distributed between The Sanneh Foundation and Urban Ventures with the purpose of promoting youth programming and increasing access to nutritious food.
A total of 1,650 snack packs were assembled, which surpassed the 2017 total of 1,300.
Jami Edwards, wife of Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards, once again made it a priority to be involved with the event.
"It was very exciting. I think everybody is thrilled to be here," Jami said of the MATTER packing session. "It seems like everybody just wants to give back to the community and do what they can, and the kids also jumped right in."
Jami was joined in packing with Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo's wife, Kari, and Jami shared her passion for making a difference with other family members of the Vikings coaching staff.
"All the wives seem to want to jump in right now," Jami said. "A lot of the wives couldn't get here today because they have young kids, but the organization and the women – I mean, [Director of Women's Initiatives Tami Hedrick] and [Senior Coordinator of Women's Initiatives] Catherine [Loose] are doing an amazing job.
"Words can't express what's available to us to do," Jami added. "And I think the more we're together and the more we do, the better it is. When people see us out there and know we're involved, it's going to be great for the organization, for us as women, to get involved, to help kids. You can't pass that up."
Following the morning's project with MATTER and before the Vikings kicked off their afternoon practice, women in the VIP tent were welcomed by a special guest, Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman. He took a few minutes to share about the team and his role before fielding questions from the crowd and mingling with fans, stopping to snap selfies and sign autographs.
Women had the opportunity to enter a drawing for various Vikings memorabilia and prize items, including an autographed Stefon Diggs jersey, signed miniature footballs and a Caribou Coffee gift basket.
Former Vikings linebacker Ben Leber spent time signing autographs for fans during practice. Afterward, current safety Andrew Sendejo made a guest appearance to answer questions, pose for photos and sign autographs, including on a large game-action photo from last season that was then given to a fan via drawing.
Among guests at the event were first-time Vikings Women visitors and new Vikings fans as long as longtime supporters of the team.
Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders alumni also were in attendance, including Sherry Hood and Andrea First, who cheered during the 1990 season.
"I just love the lifetime friendship," Hood said. "We kind of feel like we're part of a family, and it's just great to be together and pick up where we left off."
"It's incredible to bring these women into this environment," First added. "It brings everybody together, and just to be part of an organization that does the charities and the events like this, it's an incredible experience and a pleasure to be a part of."