Family was the central theme Saturday night as the Mike Zimmer Foundation kicked off with a private event at the Minnesota Vikings stadium preview center.
Funds were raised through bidding on silent auction items, and Zimmer stressed how important family is with the formation of foundation.
The foundation was in the formative stages when Zimmer’s father, Bill, died last summer, and one of the reasons the foundation was formed is to keep alive the memory of Mike Zimmer’s late wife, Vikki.
“My wife passed away a while back, in 2009, so we want to try to keep her spirit. She was the nicest, kindest person – totally opposite of me,” Zimmer quipped. “She would drive around, she saw these homeless people one time and she would drive all over, got a bag of groceries and drove around until she saw the (homeless) lady. That’s the kind of lady she was.
“She loved kids, so anytime she could do anything for kids she would.”
Now it is one of Zimmer’s kids, daughter Corri, who is in charge of the foundation and organized Saturday night’s event.
“She did a great job with inviting all the people here. She did a great job in getting donations, getting everything set up,” Zimmer said.
“It’s really amazing with all the people that showed up, with all the work really everybody has done. … (Vikings president) Kevin Warren has helped a lot. Obviously my daughter has done a lot. It is kind of touching and you see my wife’s picture here and there, so we’re just kind of keeping the whole spirit of her alive.”
In addition to Saturday night’s fundraising efforts, the Zimmers are planning a football camp for kids, a golf tournament and a hunting trip with the head coach.
The foundation has already given $10,000 for scholarships to Lockport Township (Ill.) High School, where Bill Zimmer coached wrestling and football. The foundation also donated money to help provide clean drinking water in Flint, Mich., but the efforts now will focus on the youth in Minnesota.
“We really want to concentrate on Minnesota to help these kids achieve their goals, help them get an education, help them better themselves for the future,” Zimmer said.
“The people of Minnesota have been so great to me and we wanted to try to give back to the community.”
But family is at the core of the foundation. Adam, Mike’s son and the linebackers coach for the Vikings, and his sister Marki were in attendance at the event to support Mike and Corri’s efforts. And Vikki’s memory is at the core of the foundation, called “our MVP” in the foundation’s literature.
“It’s good to have my family here and it’s great to honor Vikki obviously and do whatever we can for the community and the state of Minnesota,” Mike said.
“(Vikki) loved dance … and she always loved little kids. She loved teach ballet. That was her deal. I could tell you some of the steps even … the different positions.”
For more information on the Mike Zimmer foundation, visit the mikezimmerfoundation.org.