Sydney spent her time in Alaska in two different cities, starting in Anchorage and later traveling to Fairbanks. She was joined by former Vikings wide receiver Emmanuel (Manny) Arceneaux, former Packers, Panthers and Eagles DB Josh Hawkins; cheerleaders from the Broncos, Colts, Falcons, Seahawks, Ravens and Eagles; Freddie the hawk, Stanley the bear and Swoop the eagle.
“It was the trip of a lifetime, and I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to represent the Vikings organization,” she said.
One of Sydney’s first stops in Anchorage was the Fisher House. The Fisherman’s House Foundation donates “comfort houses” which are built on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers.
Below are excerpts from Sydney’s travel diary.
These homes allow family members to be close to a loved one in the most stressful times – during hospitalization for an unexpected illness, disease or injury. … No family pays to stay in a fisherman’s house, which is incredible. We met so many families during our visit. Not only did we get a chance to brighten their day, but I’m sure we have some new Vikings fans. It was one of my favorite times in Alaska. It was beyond amazing to be able to help them forget the stressors in their lives and have fun!
Every day we had a cheer/football clinic on the base we visited, and the kids attended the clinics to do football drills with the players or learn a dance with the cheerleaders. We had the opportunity to tell the kids what it’s like and what it takes to be an NFL cheerleader. We taught them to be confident, to be a team player, to be loud and loud when cheering, and to have fun! Most of the children we met had had experience with an encouragement clinic. It was so much fun to brighten their days and put a smile on their faces.
Every morning we woke up early to participate in a training camp led by Viking legend Emmanuel Arceneaux. Workouts have been tweaked slightly each day so troops can have a variety of workouts throughout the week. … We participated in the practice sessions to help push them through each exercise, and it was a great way to bond with the troops! _
Super Bowl Sunday, we had the opportunity to meet, greet and get to know a lot of the troops. It was amazing to get the chance to sit down and have a conversation not only about football, but also about their daily lives and getting to know them on a more personal level. We even had the chance to perform one of our routines and have a sweepstakes to win NFL team prizes. Everyone thanked us for coming and said we had no idea what it meant that we flew to see them. I’m so glad we had the opportunity to personally thank them for their service.
One day we had the opportunity to see and learn about one of the most expensive and sophisticated jet aircraft in the world, the F-35. It was so interesting to learn about the different jobs each troop had for a single jet. Unfortunately we weren’t able to take pictures with the jets for security reasons, but we were able to see something most people in the world will never see. _
Certificate of Appreciation
On our very last day of travel, we received a certification of appreciation from Brandon S. Jenkins 1SG, United States Garrison Command Sergeant Major and Nathan S. Surrey COL, AV Commander. It was such an honor to be recognized by the military and appreciated for the impact we have had on the various troops and their families. During the week I was in Alaska, I was also honored with a total of three different coins. I have been so blessed to be granted each a different member and position in the military. These were the highlights of my trip and made this whole experience so worthwhile. Ultimately, the soldiers and their families have had a huge impact on us, and I am extremely grateful to them.