06-09-2006, 04:21 AM
Sorry, I can't find photos.

Author: Mike Wobschall, vikings.com
In collaboration with KaBOOM!, over 250 volunteers, including more than 100 Vikings coaches, players and staff, joined forces on Thursday to build a new and safe playground at the Wenonah School in Minneapolis. KaBOOM! is an organization that uses an innovative community-building model to bring together business and community interests to construct new playgrounds, skateparks, sports fields and ice rinks across North America.

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress, linebacker Dontarrious Thomas and offensive lineman Matt Birk were just a few of the many players and staff that helped construct the giant playground for the students.

"It's great to be able to come out here and help the community and work together with people," Thomas said. "This also gives us a chance to reflect on how far we all have come because many of us, at some point it time, were in this situation. And this gives us the opportunity to go out and show the kids that we are real people and that they can do it too if they just put effort into it."

"Taking a look at the kids and seeing their smiling faces is enough to make it worthwhile," Vikings defensive end Erasmus James said.

The new playground's design is based on drawings submitted by children who attended the Design Day in April and will use the new structure.

The total cost of the construction of the playground is being split by the Vikings and their community partner - Toro.

"We're very honored to be involved in this project," Toro CEO Mike Hoffman said while addressing a large crowd during the ribbon cutting ceremony. "These types of activities are just part of being a member of a community and being a good citizen. We're looking forward to the kids enjoying their new playground here for years to come."

"It's the right thing to do," Birk said. "When groups of people organize an event like this and so many people respond to help out it's great to be able to pitch in and do our part."

The day began at 8:00am as the Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders led a morning stretch for volunteers from the Vikings staff, Toro and the Wenonah PTA. The entire Vikings coaching staff and team arrived soon after and were deployed to visit each classroom, assist with the playground assembly and paint a "Vikings-Toro-Education" themed mural.

Entertainment at lunch break was provided by Wenonah students and their music teacher, Kristin Nelson. She led multiple groups of students in songs during lunch and also at the ribbon cutting ceremony.

The day concluded with a 1:30pm ribbon cutting ceremony with coach Childress, Vikings Director of Community Relations Brad Madson, Wenonah Principal Joan Hultman, Toro CEO Mike Hoffman and many others who helped put together the event.

KaBOOM! project manager Meghan Fugate was particularly thrilled with the day's events.

"This is an amazing opportunity for me personally," Fugate said. "I get to travel around the U.S. and link up major corporations like the Minnesota Vikings and Toro with elementary schools like Wenonah and watch them grow together."

Thursday's events were especially unique because of the added effort the Vikings, Toro and parent volunteers put into the playground construction. The entire Vikings team was present to help with the event.

"That is very new and different," Fugate commented. "We've had several NFL builds in the past and they've been great teams, but the Vikings are the first to bring out the entire team. This was awesome and we had a great time today."

"The generosity of the Vikings and Toro can't be measured because of the long-lasting positive results this will have on the families and the kids of this neighborhood," principal Hultman said.

"The timing of this project is just perfect," Hultman added. "We're merging two schools in September of 2006. And we're bringing a full community together here and this is a way to bridge the two communities together. It's just absolutely wonderful. I'm so thrilled."

During his address during the ribbon cutting ceremony, coach Childress commented that perhaps the team would benefit just as much from of this event as any of the kids.

"I told the team that they may get more out of this than any of the kids would," Childress said. "It's our hope to be able to do this every year at different schools around the state."

Principal Hultman also introduced two students to the large crowd as they gave their thanks to all of the volunteers for helping with the construction of their new playground and the rest of the school's outdoor makeover. One student gave her thanks in English while the other recited his heartfelt thanks in Spanish.

Many crates of concrete and piles of mulch were moved and used in the construction. Along with the playground and mural, the day's events produced scores of new picnic tables, benches and scenic landscape.

Thursday's event was the 981st such kind for KaBOOM!. The company is currently enjoying their tenth year of operation.

Thursday was more than just a hundred or so volunteers getting together to build a playground. The day's events illustrated to all the importance of community building and community support. Today, one small school in southeastern Minneapolis has been given a boost. But if the Vikings have anything to say about it, we know that tomorrow and beyond will see even more schools feel the power of community.

06-09-2006, 04:29 AM
I swear, If I lived in the area, I would have loved to have been a part of the gathering and help donate my talents as a construction worker......

Would have been well worth it and very rewarding.......

06-09-2006, 10:27 PM
Hey, take a look at this. Pretty neat slide show with sound!

06-09-2006, 10:41 PM
lets hope they didnt have to lay any pipe..if ya know what I mean :razz:

06-10-2006, 02:31 AM
lol, completely uncalled for, thanks for that