The nascent Twin Cities Native Lacrosse youth program displayed a shiny new white van at Corcoran Park in Minneapolis on Tuesday, a purchase made possible by grant from the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee.
As part of the 52 weeks of giving program, the host committee is announcing grants every week to programs throughout the state that focus on the health and welfare of children.
The native lacrosse group started was started in 2014 by John Hunter of St. Paul with a $2,500 grant from the Indian community-focused Tiwahe Foundation.
The host committee gave the group $50,000, most of which went to the super-sized van with the group's red logo on the sides. Hunter said the van will carry the youth to the North American Indigenous Games in Toronto this summer.
He noted at the Corcoran Park news conference that lacrosse is called "the creator's game" and has been played in some form by almost every tribe for centuries. The youth in the Twin Cities program play with traditional wooden sticks.
To the youth, lacrosse is more than a game. Hunter said it helps kids focus and stay in school as well as connecting to the land and animals. "There's a depth to this game unlike any other," he said.
After the news conference, adults and youth at the news conference grabbed their sticks for a friendly game joined by retired Minnesota Vikings linebacker E.J. Henderson, who was a hit with the kids and posed for numerous photos.