Heroes in the Making: Army Sergeants Dawn VanHeuven, Kimberly Ramos and Army Specialist Joshua Ramos

Kelsey Kroll
Wolves Editorial/Social Media Associate


Admiration and standing ovations were not limited to just the players on the court during the Minnesota Timberwolves 100-91 victory over the Houston Rockets at Target Center on Saturday night. They were also given to another set of all-stars in the arena.

As part of the Minnesota Timberwolves FastBreak Foundation's Operation Minnesota Heroes Month, Saturday night also served as Military Night and paid special tribute to America’s service members, families, and employers – past and present – who have contributed to the call of freedom.

And for Army Sergeant Dawn VanHeuven and two of her children, Army Sergeant Kimberly Ramos and Army Specialist Joshua Ramos—a family who has shared an experience most have not—Saturday’s recognition as Heroes in the Making was a surprise they did not see coming.

“I was surprised,” Joshua said. “It’s been almost two years that we’ve been back now and all of a sudden this comes up out of nowhere and it’s like, whoa, people really don’t forget and that is a great feeling. It’s great that people do remember the veterans and all those that are serving, it’s very warming.”

VanHeuven, who served with the 175th FSC in Iraq from 2009-2010 and was in the Navy for eight years before giving birth to Kimberly and Joshua, was touched to receive such an honorable recognition with her children who have followed in her footsteps.

“It’s been an honor for all three of us to have something more to be a part of together,” Dawn said.

“It’s always been a big part of my life—serving for my country—so I always encouraged them and they showed interest in it,” she said. “Josh actually brought the National Guard recruiter over and I ended up telling him that I missed being a part of something so amazing as serving for our country. I asked if they’d take an old person like me and they said yes.”

Only a short while later, all three found themselves serving overseas at the same time. And while being within close proximity of each other was reassuring, they all agreed it was equally difficult.

“There were times when it was scary while we were deployed,” Joshua confessed. “You really are thinking all the time, is my family okay, are they going to be there when I get back from my mission. We’d always ask other people how each other was since we did not see each other much and everyone knew who we were because we were family.

Dawn, Kimberly and Joshua enjoyed sharing their night as Heroes with family and friends and were glad to give something back to those who have given them so much support while overseas.

“They are the people that were supporting us while we were gone,” Joshua said. “And by us bringing them here, we’re giving them back what they did for us while we were overseas.”

One individual who was especially happy for the three Heroes was Dawn’s youngest daughter Megan. Megan, who is 18, could barely find the words to describe how proud she was for family and glad to have them back home again.

“It was really hard when they were gone,” Megan said. “When they came back, it was indescribable and then seeing them down there tonight I thought it wasn’t even real.”

Saturday night exceeded any expectations the three had and they could not be more appreciative for the Timberwolves making it all possible.

“The Timberwolves organization has been amazing,” Dawn said. I never imagined this and we thank them so much. It’s an honor for us to serve. If I could do it over again or go back tomorrow, I’d do it in a heartbeat.”

About the FastBreak Foundation

The Timberwolves FastBreak Foundation provides and supports hands-on programs that positively impact Minnesota youth. Through giving, education and basketball opportunities, the Foundation enables young people to make responsible decisions, contribute to their futures, and experience lifelong memories. In the past year, the Minnesota Timberwolves FastBreak Foundation and the Minnesota Lynx Foundation have combined to impact 2,565 organizations with $1,008,107 in-kind donations, 60,000 Tickets for Kids donations, 4,328 volunteer hours, 53 Heroes in the Making on-court presentations and 14 $5,000 grants.

For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.