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A day for military families

Sometimes, it gets hard for military families to spend some time together -- especially when one of the family members is deployed. But an event next month aims to help make that happen, even if one of those members are overseas.

The Farmington VFW and Warrior to Citizen Campaign is hosting a special Military Family Day May 9 at the Dakota County Fairgrounds. Warrior to Citizen Campaign organizer Annette Kuyper hopes it will be an event that every area military family can enjoy.

The afternoon includes all sorts of activities.

"There's just so much going on all at once, I don't even know where to start," Kuyper said.

The Minnesota Army National Guard will bring out three vehicles including a Bradley tank and a Humvee. The Farmington police and fire departments will have vehicles there for families to look at, as well. The Army is bringing out an obstacle course and climbing wall for visitors to try.

As Warrior to Citizen is a campaign guided by the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute, it should come as no surprise the U of M is involved, as well. And in a big way. About 50 Minnesota Gopher athletes, representing at least eight men's and women's sports, are coming to the area to host sports clinics with the kids in attendance. The athletes will sign autographs, and Goldie the Gopher is coming along, too. Kids can also create sports pennants with U of M art students at an art station that will be set up.

There will be about 30 tables of resources for families, sponsored by the Deployment Cycle Support of the Minnesota Army National Guard.

Recognizing that there will likely be some families who are missing one person because he or she is currently serving, Frontier Communications will provide free wireless Internet access, and do message recordings so those here in Minnesota can send their love and support overseas. An area photographer has also offered to take pictures for the families, for free.

"It's just going to be awesome. I can't wait," Kuyper said.

A free picnic meal of hot dogs and chips is being provided by the VFW and Frontier Communications.

Though Farmington's Warrior to Citizen Campaign is organizing the event, it is open to all military families in the area. The reason for the event, she added, is simple.

"We are doing it because part of the Farmington Warrior to Citizen mission is to support and recognize our military service members and their families. This helps fulfill that mission, to honor and recognize them," she said.

The only request Warrior to Citizen has, she said, is that families register in advance, which will allow the Gopher athletes to organize their sports clinics by age and interests of the kids.