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Commentary: Super Bowl Legacy Fund hits $1M milestone

By Dana Nelson, vice president of Legacy and Community Partnerships, Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee, Minneapolis, MN

In less than 250 days, Minnesota will host Super Bowl LII, giving us an opportunity to showcase our great state on the world's largest stage. We will welcome more than 1 million guests to Minnesota during our 10-day Super Bowl festival and show the world why we love it here in the Bold North. But more importantly, hosting the Super Bowl gives us the chance to leave a lasting legacy for Minnesota's future. That's what brought us to Alexandria last month to provide a fleet of 40 bikes and a trailer for kids in the community. And as of this Tuesday, we reached the $1 million milestone in giving across the state! We wanted to share some stories from the road and highlight the progress we are making to improve the lives of children in Minnesota.

We began our 52 Weeks of Giving campaign on a (very) cold day in Minneapolis just days after Super Bowl LI in Houston. Since, we have traveled to every corner of the state — literally — providing grants to community organizations from International Falls to the Iowa border that are doing amazing work to promote health and wellness for children. We are the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee's and we believe it's important for Minnesota communities across the state to share in the celebration and benefits that come with hosting this world-class event.

Our Legacy Fund is focused on health and wellness for kids because for the first time ever, children born today have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. We need to get kids moving again, eating better, and building healthy habits. That's where the Legacy Fund comes in. Each of our community grants, which were selected in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Health the Minnesota Department of Health's Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) and with the support of Minnesota's philanthropic community, focuses on improving health and wellness for Minnesota's kids. We have helped build playgrounds, fund bike fleets, create community gardens and more.

We are proud to have hit the $1 million mark, but what does that number really mean? In Alexandria, we hope it means a young person will develop a love for biking. In Faribault, it means that 200 children who live in a mobile home park will have a new playground greeting them as they get off the bus from school. In Grand Rapids it means that hundreds of families will have new found access to fresh produce and nutritious foods. In each community we visited, the smiling faces of children told us the story about a future generation of Minnesotans who will have more opportunities to stay active and be well (while having a lot of fun). And most importantly, each of these investments in communities across the state will provide a lasting impact long after the final whistle of the Super Bowl.

We are proud that Alexandria has joined the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee on our journey to improve health and wellness for Minnesota kids and we invite you to stay in touch as we keep moving forward! Visit mnsuperbowl.com and follow along as we provide a new grant each week to communities across Minnesota as we countdown to Super Bowl LII on February 4, 2018.

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