Two decades of inspiration: Hy-Vee/Sanford Legends lifts up kids

May 24, 2019

This paid piece is sponsored by Sanford Health.

Youths in the area have benefited from the presence of Hy-Vee/Sanford Legends for Kids for 20 years now. The accumulated impact in the community is immeasurable in some ways and impressively measurable in others.

Let’s start with the measurable:

In 2018,  the event, which opens with a banquet at the Pentagon, raised $220,000 for the Legends scholarship program and the Legends Foundation for Youth Grant Program. That brought the total to $2,093,000 since 2005. More than 37,000 kids have participated since Sanford Health and Hy-Vee teamed up to create this annual highlight on the sports skyline.

“Twenty years ago, we had no idea the kind of long-term impact this program would make,” said Tim Stupka, one of the driving forces behind Legends and a longtime Hy-Vee executive. “It’s a testament to the generosity of regional businesses and leaders.”

And then there is immeasurable:

Sanford and Hy-Vee have sponsored the appearance of more than 150 sports legends over those 20 years. Those legends have spoken with tens of thousands of area youth, passing along messages focused on quality, integrity and character.

It’s a process where all-time greats share knowledge, inspiration and wisdom. And it’s not coming at the kids through the internet on a computer tablet. These men and women, who did real things to achieve their fame, arrive in Sioux Falls ready to share their victories, challenges and insight with young people.

“It’s part of our mission and that of Hy-Vee to develop young leaders within our community,” longtime Sanford Health executive Kevin Lampe said. “So much needs to be done to get these kids off the couch, off the computers. We believe sports build discipline and leadership – two characteristics that are important once they grow up.”

Doors for the Legends banquet will open at 5 p.m. June 13 at the Pentagon with a silent auction featuring hundreds of items generously donated by local businesses, individuals and sponsors. There is also an hourlong VIP event with the Legends celebrities that begins an hour earlier.

The dozen celebrities will be introduced at 6:30 p.m., and dinner follows at 7 p.m. The rest of the night includes an auction, live music, videos and celebrity “hot seat” interviews.

“It’s worked really well for us,” Brad Coleman, a Sanford Health senior public affairs specialist, said of the rapid-fire interview portion of the night. “It brings these celebrity athletes down to where the rest of us are by sharing stories about their everyday lives.”

This year’s group of celebrities includes 10 who have been part of the Legends events before. In a sense, 2019’s crew represents an all-star team of Legends all stars.

“We brought back some of the men and women who were our favorites over the years,” Coleman said. “Nearly everybody coming this year has been here before at some point.”

It speaks to the loyalty that accompanies establishing a tradition of operating a well-run event. That applies for Hall of Fame household names like Johnny Bench and Bill Walton, whose previous visits are still talked about.

“For me, it’s a wonderful gift to come in as an Olympian, to be able to share with the kids that (self-doubt) is normal, and then to give them tools to overcome that and to be a resource for them, to plant the seed that — hopefully — this is possible,” two-time Olympic volleyball player Courtney Thompson said before appearing at the event last year. “We set our own limits, no matter where you come from, how tall you are, whatever.”

It is with the same kind of faith in purpose that so many community sponsors remain enthusiastically connected with the Legends.

“After we saw what they were really trying to do, we got behind it in a much bigger way, both financially and on the ground,” said Don Jacobs, market manager and vice president of Townsquare Media, a sponsor of the event for almost 20 years. “There are a lot of kids – not just in Sioux Falls but surrounding communities – that need interaction with adults who really care. They get that opportunity in their own backyards. The camps are not just about the sport but about being a good sportsman.”

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Two decades of inspiration: Hy-Vee/Sanford Legends lifts up kids

Over 20 years, Sanford and Hy-Vee have sponsored the appearance of more than 150 sports legends, delivering messages focused on quality, integrity and character to tens of thousands of area kids.

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