Taste Of The Timberwolves Brings Out Best In Community
Taste of the Timberwolves amazes me. It just does.
When I started with the Wolves last year, I wasn’t aware of Taste’s presence or impact in the community, and I certainly wasn’t prepared for the type of environment it creates one night a year on the very same Target Center floor on which Minnesota competes throughout the NBA season.
[Related Content: CLICK HERE for full photo gallery from the 18th Annual Taste of the Timberwolves]
It’s a spectacle. It’s a who’s-who of Wolves fans that come together for a myriad of reasons—to meet their favorite Timberwolves players, to possibly bid on and win exceptional prizes and to taste the best fare in the Twin Cities area. And above all, these fans come together to help keep the FastBreak Foundation in business year-round. Every penny of the more than $350,000 raised on Thursday’s Taste event will go toward helping kids and those in need around the community throughout 2013. That money will touch a lot of lives.
But it’s more than that. On Wednesday the Wolves played the Spurs. On Friday they played the Knicks. In between the Target Center’s main bowl was transformed into the cocktail gala of the season thanks to a collection of Timberwolves staff members and a hard-working event staff working all day to put together and tear down the drapes and tables and risers.
In the end, it’s a memorable night that no one who attended will forget. The Wolves do such a good job of engaging and interacting with all the people who come to Taste, and it makes the fans feel like they get such an exclusive look into the lives of the players they watch each night.
The players appreciate it just as much as anyone.
“Any time we get a chance to be out here with the fans and show them what we’re like off the court—we’re just normal guys, too, that like to have a good time,” Stiemsma said. “It’s fun to be here and mingle, shake hands and do whatever we can.”
If you’ve never seen Taste, it’s basically a night that puts together a fan’s most sought after opportunities. They mingle with the players, get autographs, bid on vintage framed sports photos as well as trips to All-Star Weekend or Hawaii—among other prizes—and in the end sit down and watch the Wolves’ players play some form of a game show as finale entertainment. This year was $10,000 Pyramid.
But it also highlights all the things that make professional sports teams so vital and integral in a community. The underlying purpose of this dream evening is to raise money for the FastBreak Foundation, and it shows just how generous members of our community are in helping to achieve that cause. Without Taste, the Wolves wouldn’t be able to do the book drives for elementary schools, the Holiday Shopping for Kids and Toy Drives at the holidays, the Heroes in the Making evenings for those battling illness or the gymnasium renovations that they do throughout the year.
This one night helps facilitate it. Near the end of the evening, Wolves President Chris Wright went on stage and outlined a Timberwolves Book Drive that will help facilitate reading in elementary schools around the area throughout the year. He simply asked for tax-deductible donations beginning, and over a span of five minutes those in attendance donated more than $40,000 toward that initiative. That generosity and willingness to give defines Taste of the Timberwolves and ratifies the message that this organization conveys on a regular basis: The Minnesota Timberwolves Basketball Club includes everyone in this region, and along with their duties on the court they take the opportunity to take care of their fans off the court very seriously. For these fans to help this cause they way they did on Thursday reiterates that we’re all in this together.
“They believe in our foundation,” Wright said. “They believe in the work that it does. It’s very gratifying.”
It’s a reciprocal deal. The Wolves believe in Taste because of the impact it has both during those three hours that night and out in the community over the ensuing 365 days. The fans believe it in for the experience it provides and for all the lives it will touch throughout the year.
This week was the 18th annual Taste of the Timberwolves. I can’t wait to see what happens because of this night between now and Taste No. 19 next year.