Timberwolves Show Appreciation For Veterans, Host Wolves Give Thanks Event




Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Brandon Roy got the opportunity to visit Fort Lewis south of Seattle a few years ago and was able to meet with active military members. Meeting them, hearing their stories and seeing first-hand the sacrifices they make to help protect and serve our country hit home, and it’s something he’s carried with him since.

So as Roy, five of his teammates and other members of the Timberwolves organization hosted a room full of military veterans and their families on Tuesday at SEVEN Steakhouse for a Thanksgiving-style dinner, the Wolves guard said it was a special moment being able to say thank you in a unique way.

[Related Content: View a photo gallery from Tuesday’s Wolves Give Thanks event at SEVEN.]

 

“It just gives you perspective that they give us the chance to go out and play basketball and display our freedoms, and without them we wouldn’t be able to do that,” Roy said. “For me to come out here and just talk to them and shake their hands, it means a lot.”

The Timberwolves’ FastBreak Foundation, the Roger and Nancy McCabe Foundation and POPP Communications hosted the team’s annual Wolves Give Thanks event on Tuesday as part of Operation: Heroes Month, hosting military veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq and their families for dinner.

More than 100 people attended, where Roy, Dante Cunningham, Greg Stiemsma, Malcolm Lee, Derrick Williams, Alexey Shved and player development coach Shawn Respert joined team president Chris Wright in serving food to the veterans and their families.

Among those in the group were 30 Purple Heart recipients.

The players posed for photos with the guests and were able to express their appreciation for their service.

Wolves forward Dante Cunningham, whose parents each spent about 30 years in the Air Force, said he understands the dynamic of families who have loved ones serving in the Armed Forces. He said being able to facilitate a night like Wolves Give Thanks not only means a lot to their guests, but it means a lot to him and his teammates.

“The biggest thing I take away is just what the Timberwolves organization can do, just by serving food, just be us spending our time here,” Cunningham said. “It goes a long way, as little as an hour to bring everyone together, to bring generations of war veterans here to come here and eat. It’s just a great feeling. It’s hard to put into words, but it’s just a warming feeling to be here for this.”

World War II veteran Lu Vorpahl spent time in the Philippines during his service. He returned home more than 60 years ago, and he said he’s never quite been to a veteran-related event like Wolves Give Thanks. Now 101 years old, the St. Anthony Village resident said he thoroughly enjoyed the event.

“They don’t forget, I can tell you that,” Vorpahl said. “I’m just surprised how nice people are, and I’m grateful for them. It’s been quite a few years since, and this is the nicest thing I’ve been to. The Timberwolves’ dinner, it’s very nice.”

It was a night for all generations, ranging from Vorpahl all the way through veterans who served in Iraq. The McCabes said they grew up in the Vietnam era, and they remember what it was like when veterans returned home. Nancy McCabe said being able to work with the FastBreak Foundation during November’s Operation: Heroes Month was a perfect fit for reaching out to veterans in the state.

Bill Popp, president of POPP Communications, said an important facet of the evening’s festivities is remembering that when a person joins the military, it’s a commitment not only for the individual but for the individual’s family.

“It’s a family experience,” Popp said. “And we need to do a better job of saying thank you to military families. We need to do a better job of recognizing that sacrifices that those families make, and I really believe that we are doing a good job of that now.”

Wright agreed. He and his wife each have veterans in their families, and he emphasized that the freedoms we enjoy every day are available because of the time these veterans spent protecting our country.

“It's amazing what we have today because of what other people have done for us," Wright said. "They allow us to have the lifestyles we have, the freedoms that we have every single day."

Roy said the night was a combination of meeting the veterans and their families, hearing their stories and conveying his deep appreciation for their service.

“This is our way of saying thank you,” Roy said. “Of course they can come out to the game and watch us play basketball, and that’s our way of making them happy, but it’s always good to serve them and show them our appreciation for what they do for our country.”


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