STEM Day kicked off “The Great Minnesota Get Together” with 35 exhibitors of the Minnesota STEM Network, an initiative of SciMathMN, sharing interactive activities with young Minnesota State Fair visitors. In The WorksMuseum booth, budding engineers explored light refraction with VAA volunteers by making sunglasses with “magical” rainbow lenses while enjoying greasy fair favorites. “It was great to see kids so happy to learn something new through hands-on activities,” said Dave Olheiser, VAA Partner who volunteered in the booth.
A two-hour weather delay did not deter Team VAA from participating in the 2016 Warrior Dash. The Team, sixteen employees and seven honorary VAA members, clad in blue conquered a 5K obstacle course by wrangling mud mounds, crawling through water-logged trenches and clamoring over cargo nets and more. The Team’s participation contributed to raising over $13,400 (to date) for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
VAA’s connection with True Friends has included many activities over the past decade. Initiated by one of VAA’s founders in 2006, involvement at the camps began with individual volunteering, Eagle Scout mentoring and small “handy man” projects on site. As employees noticed a need for larger improvements, VAA offered and completed facility designs at Camp Friendship and Camp Edenwood. Jeff Schrock, CEO, currently participates on the Facility Advisory Board and continues to encourage fundraisers championed by VAA employees. “When employees come together to help True Friends on multiple levels, like facility access or making blankets for campers, it reflects our giving culture. It’s beyond satisfying to work with an organization like True Friends that has an impact on so many – we’re glad to lend a hand,” said Schrock.
Serving more than 4,000 children and adults each year, True Friends is a combination of five camps geared toward participants with a range of physical and developmental disabilities. The organization’s mission is to provide life-changing experiences that enhance independence and self-esteem for its campers. With activities ranging from archery to zip lining, these camps offer a unique and invaluable resource to participants and volunteers. VAA could not be more proud to support the cause and contribute to this inspiring community.