A Wish of a Lifetime

He grew up an orphan on the streets of Duluth, Minnesota. He is an 83 year old Korean War Veteran, a loving father, and a diehard Vikings Football fan.

Ford Lund's incredible sacrifice for this country is characterized by the letter of condemnation he received for his bravery during the Korean War. While in combat, he crossed the front lines and brought back two wounded Greek soldiers who had been hit with mortar shells. He was recognized with letter of commendation for bravery and is one of the only two American soldiers who were able to wear a Greek Army badge on their uniform.

Ford and his family have been fans of the Minnesota Vikings since their first game in 1961. In fact, a Vikings game in 1961 was the first and only Vikings game that he has been to in his entire life. Ford and his family have watched the Vikings play every Sunday for decades, but due to health issues and financial constraints, they have been unable to go to another game. To him and his family, the Minnesota Vikings are more than a sports team, they are a family passion and a recognition of their home state.

Thanks to Wish of a Lifetime and the Minnesota Vikings, Ford's dream to go to another Vikings game became a reality on September 18, 2015, when they flew Ford and his son Tim from Montana to Minnesota for an unforgettable Vikings weekend. 

I was honored to be invited to be the event photographer and to document the experience for this charming man and his son. 

Meet Ford Lund, as he does a little wheeling and dealing from Ziggy Wolf's office!

Halls are lined with memorabilia and photographs - symbols of the Viking's legacy dating back generations.

Ford and his son, Tim, were given a tour of Winter Park, meeting key personnel and places.

Stepping on to the turf at Winter Park's indoor practice field.  PS.  It is surprisingly soft!  Babies could lay happily on that stuff!

Ford was invited to watch morning practice with Executive Director of Community Relations, Brad Mason.  Due to security and team privacy reasons, we were not able to photograph the players engaged in practice.  However, Ford's smile says it all!

Ford was invited to the closing huddle with players to give the final break. 

Ford was invited to the closing huddle with players to give the final break. 

Coach Zimmerman introduces Ford to the players, telling of his amazing legacy as a soldier and fan.

I know nothing of football.  So, when the crowd surrounded him, I brazenly pushed my way through the wall of men, ignorant of who they were or what they did - simply so I could capture Ford.  Imagine my surprise the next day when I realized who they were.  Oh... hey there, Adrian Peterson.... Vikings Running Back.  Sorry for the elbow in the side and kick to the knee!

Ford gets his #28 jersey signed by Running Back, Adrian Peterson.

One of the sweetest and most lighthearted moments came when Ford delighted in knowing he could also keep the pen!

One of the sweetest and most lighthearted moments came when Ford delighted in knowing he could also keep the pen!

Tim also got his jersey signed by #22 Safety, Harrison Smith.

Quarterback #5 Teddy Bridgewater stayed behind to sign his own gloves for the gents.

Quarterback #5 Teddy Bridgewater stayed behind to sign his own gloves for the gents.

Ford meets former NFL player turned Vikings Offensive Line Coach, Jeff Davidson.

Ford practices his flex with an image of Adrian Peterson for inspiration.  "C'mon Coach... put me in, I'm ready!"

After practice it was a quiet moment to simply enjoy the experience.

Ford would next be interviewed for the Viking's documentary show - Beyond the Gridiron.  (Look for video clips on their website when they are posted.)  He spoke of his long standing love of the Vikings, and what a great coach he saw in Bud Grant.

Then the interview turned to speak of Ford's time in service.  His eyes dropped and he quieted as he sank into his chair.  Seeing the change, I realized that like most audiences, we saw his medals and valore - wanting stories of his time in deployment.  Yet, he only saw the battlefield and what dark times transpired during his time in Korea.  He son says he doesn't speak of it often and on this day, that remained true.

Then, it was his son Tim's turn for interview.  He laughed and smiled as he spoke of his loving father and what a happy childhood he had with him.  Through Tim, we saw the gentle heart of a loving father and dedicated Viking's fan who raised his entire family on this beloved Minnesota pastime.

Teddy Bridgewater's gift to the boys as a proud son enjoys this special time with his father.

A person's life can be changed by the kindness you show.

Wish of a Lifetime is a non-profit organization whose mission it is to shift the way society views and values our oldest generations by fulfilling seniors’ dreams and sharing their stories to inspire those of all ages.

Seniors are nominated by others and then a team at WOAL go to work to make it happen!  To learn more about this great organization, visit their website!

PS.  After a day at Winter Park with the Vikings, Ford and his son were guests at the Vikings game against the Detroit Lions.   (Ford - you must good luck because Vikings had a grand win at 26-16!)