The Real MVPs of Super Bowl LII


With just a few days left before the New England Patriots and Philidelphia Eagles faceoff for Super Bowl LII, the Twin Cities and surrounding neighborhoods are bumpin’ with people and parties! Determined to show visitors why 5.5 million Americans choose to live in a state with (sometimes) brutal weather conditions, the Minneapolis Super Bowl Host Committee has been busy preparing since Roger Goodell announced this year’s game would be held in the new U.S. Bank Stadium back in May of 2014. The Committee’s website reads, “With our bold new stadium serving as a backdrop to one of the biggest events on Earth, Minnesota is proud to introduce millions of visitors from around the globe not just to our state, but to our state of mind: The Bold North.”

Although Minneapolis typically isn’t the first travel destination that comes to mind during the month of February (i.e. today is said to reach a balming 13 degrees), the city estimates an influx of over 1 million visitors and an economic impact of over $400 million. As past years have shown, the Super Bowl signifies much more than a football match played by the NFC and AFC championship teams. The host city is responsible for putting on a 10 day-long festival filled with hundreds of parties, concerts, and fundraisers. This year, over 10,000 volunteers outfitted in blue and purple (a note to the Northern Lights) will be facilitating events and activities as well as providing security to ensure all events run smoothly. A few of the this year’s most-talked-about programs include the Super Bowl Experience Driven by Genesis and Super Bowl LIVE sponsored by Verizon. There is even a 150,000-pound ice sculpture crafted in the shape of Roman numerals “LII” looming over the Nicollet Mall and an 800-foot long zip line that soars over the Mississippi River providing riders with a glimpse of the Minneapolis skyline.

To our delight, the true value of hosting the big game goes far beyond the fan zones, celebrity appearances, and extravagant bashes. Many of the events associated with the Super Bowl generate large sums of money that fund charitable projects and programs in our communities. Over the years, the annual affair has become the perfect platform for organizations looking to raise money and awareness around their mission.

Thinking about the Super Bowl differently this year, the Wit & Delight editorial team spent a considerable amount of time contemplating how we could show our support and spread the word about Super Bowl LII events and programs that are going above and beyond the big game and working to make a difference.

Here are five organizations that are giving back to the community and making use of all the fun football festivities in a truly altruistic way. If it were up to us, we’d make them the real MVP.

Man, I love American football.

1. Super Bowl Legacy Fund

Courtesy of the NFL Foundation, each year the host city receives a million dollar grant to fund charitable projects of their choice. In partnership with the Minnesota Community Foundation, the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee is using the money to build a healthier, more active, longlasting future for our state’s youth. With the goal in mind, the 52 Weeks of Giving Program was launched providing financial aid to a new community each week leading up to the big game. Hovering around a total of 5.5 million dollars, granted funds have been used to modernize playgrounds and build skate parks in communities committed to improving the health and wellness of Minnesota’s youth. In addition, last fall a $75,000 grant was given to Minneapolis Public Schools to fund a food truck with full culinary capabilities. The repurposed school bus travels around Minneapolis delivering nutritious meals to young people year round. During summer months and at a number of community engagement events, individuals under the age of 18 even eat for free! If you or your organization is interested in getting involved or donating to the cause, contact Dana Nelson at dnelson@mnsuperbowl.com.

2. Taste of the NFL

Founded in 1992 by Minnesota native, Wayne Kostroski, Taste of the NFL rallies the country’s top chefs and NFL’s greatest football players to raise money for food banks across America. Over the last 25 years, earnings from the 501(c)(3) have provided over 400 million meals to families in need. This Saturday, on the eve of Super Bowl Sunday, guests are invited to “party with a purpose” and experience exceptional cuisine, mingle with NFL players and coaches, and join in the fight against hunger. The fun doesn’t stop there: there will be a silent auction, raffle and a live performance by O.A.R. For more information on the single most successful charitable Super Bowl event, visit Taste of the NFL’s website.

3. Make-A-Wish Foundation

Every 34 minutes, the Make-A-Wish Foundation grants the wish of a chronically ill child in America. Since 1982, at least one Make-A-Wish boy or girl has had their wish come true and attended the annual game. This weekend, the foundation will grant the wishes of fourteen kids and invite them to travel to Minneapolis and join in on the football, festivities, and five-star fun. After arriving from their respective hometowns, the wish kids and their families will attend a VIP reception hosted by Dave & Buster’s (national Make-A-Wish sponsor). The remainder of the weekend the families will have the opportunity to visit the Super Bowl Experience, take a private tour of U.S. Bank Stadium, meet former NFL players and of course, attend the faceoff game between NFC and AFC champions. One of the visitors, fourteen-year-old Elijah Jones, said “It’s awesome. I get to go to the Super Bowl. I never thought I would.” To learn more and get involved visit the Make-A-Wish website.

4. Rebuilding Together “Kickoff to Build”

For the past 23 years, Rebuilding Together has partnered with the NFL to improve and strengthen the community surrounding Super Bowl cities. This Saturday, February 2nd, Rebuilding Together will take the Twin Cities and host a revitalization project in the Tilsenbilt neighborhood of South Minneapolis. From 8:30 am – 2 pm, volunteers alongside NFL players will breathe new life into six homes in need of critical home repairs that address health and safety concerns. In addition, a new garden will be built to serve as a community gathering space as well as to provide neighbors with fresh produce, something difficult to attain in the area. Individuals looking to participate can meet the other volunteers Saturday morning at St. Peter’s AME Church located at 401 East 41st Street in Minneapolis.

5. NFL Women’s Summit “In the Huddle”

Historically comprised of nearly all men, the NFL is working to support the advancement of women on and off the field. For the third year in a row, the NFL Women’s Summit will be held this Saturday, February 2nd. The summit brings together current and future female leaders to hear from inspiring role models on a wide array of topics that celebrate women’s mark on football and beyond. Follow @MNSuperBowl2018 to see live social media coverage of Saturday’s event and use the hashtag #NFLWomensSummit to join in on the conversation.

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Paige Gardiner is a Producer at Wit & Delight. A recent college graduate, Paige majored in Entrepreneurship and recently launched her own jewelry business Goodrich & Grand. In her spare time, she loves a good glass of wine, a night out with girlfriends and laughing with her mom, which just so happens to be her current roommate.

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