During his Vikings career, fans had a love affair with Jared Allen. From the moment he showed up in his cowboy hat and boots, skinny jeans and a mullet, he was a breath of fresh air for fans who had become too accustomed to coaches and players answering questions “by the book” – where the questioner could anticipate the answer the moment it was asked.
Allen was different. He was eminently quotable because he wasn’t cut from the standard bolt of cloth. He was unique, free-spirited and seemed to enjoy interacting with fans in a way most players didn’t.
It didn’t take long for those who got to know Allen to see that he was down to earth and tried to squeeze out all the enjoyment he could from each day. When he got his big contract from the Vikings, he pledged to do good with it – start a charitable foundation to help those less fortunate than himself.
He was searching for the right cause to attach to his name. He was doing work for charitable causes, including taking part in a USO Tour after his first season with the Vikings in 2008, leading to him finding his charitable calling.
Allen established the Jared Allen’s Homes For Wounded Warriors in October 2009, vowing to assist the men of women of the U.S. military who came back to America with permanent disabilities that were the result of their commitment, dedication and sacrifices made in the name of their country.
In the ensuing years, Allen’s foundation helped construct or modify homes to make them fully accessible for several soldiers who came back from war zones with handicaps they left without.
Allen was one of the examples that stadium proponents could point to as to why having professional football in Minnesota was important not only to the economy, but to the quality of life – whether it’s from fundraising events like last weekend’s Arctic Blast event or individual players like Allen who started foundations because they saw a cause they felt strongly about and had the wherewithal to make a positive change.
Some players start foundations or charitable efforts at the behest of their agents to give them a positive public image. Allen did it on his own. He didn’t need a boost in his image. The love of the Vikings fan base was cemented. It something he believed in and followed through on it.
When Allen’s contract expired and his career path took him to Chicago, it would have seemed natural that he would have taken his cause with him. However, on Saturday, Allen proved that his loyalty to his cause and wounded vets in Minnesota didn’t stop just because he wasn’t getting his fan mail at Winter Park anymore.
On Saturday, there was a ribbon cutting in Minnetrista, Minn. for the construction of a home for Colin Faust.
Faust enlisted in the Marines in 2009. A year later, he was on a foot patrol in the Northern Helmand Province of Afghanistan, Faust stepped on an improvised explosive device). He lost his left leg, severely injured his right leg and his left arm. Confined to a wheelchair, Faust attends Minnesota State-Mankato but lives in a home that isn’t wheelchair accessible.
Thanks to Allen and his Homes for Wounded Warriors foundation, a fully accessible home will be waiting for Faust.
There wasn’t a lot of fanfare or publicity for the event, but, as Allen has said many times, it’s not about a grip-and-grin photo/video opportunity. His satisfaction comes after the ribbon-cutting is done and the helping begins. That’s the content of character that he has brought to the Vikings and several wounded warriors he has helped since.
For those who have questioned the state getting involved in keeping the Vikings in Minnesota, they should take heart in the fact that not only are current players doing their part to raise money for charitable causes, so are former Vikings.
Allen continues to assist Minnesota veterans
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