Column: Looking back at highlights from 2013


During the past year, I wrote columns that now need to be updated.

Remember the plea to buy 285 “Rescued Heroes” calendars of the 1,000 calendars Lynn and photographer Paul Sansale donated to raise $15,000 to help a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder?

We said the money would be used to match and train a Minnesota war veteran with a service dog in Florida. Well, you came through. The 1,000 calendars were sold and a veteran has been found who qualifies for the K-9s for Warriors program, and he will be trained in 2014.

This year the Sansales have produced a service dog calendar featuring the dogs and the service members they are helping. You can find these new calendars in stores and online at

Some of you responded to a column we did on Gary Tonsager, an optician from Elk River, who has collected used baseball equipment and sent it to Benin, Africa, where residents there are starting American baseball. Tonsager received $500 from the Elk River Rotary Club to help fund the project, and now Benin residents are playing baseball.

In a couple of columns, I was on a mission to stop traveling team sports tournament directors from scheduling games on Sunday mornings. Instead, as a reader suggested, why not save Sunday morning for family time and schedule the tournaments after noon on Sunday?

This column got lots of comments, but I’m not sure tournament directors changed the Sunday scheduling. My point was that it’s hard for parents to prevent their kids from playing sports Sunday mornings, fearing there will be backlash for their kids from the coaches.

I also wrote about high school trap shooting teams, the fastest growing team sport in Minnesota. At the end of this year, the league had 3,400 participants on 114 teams.

Next year, a state high school trap shooting tournament, sanctioned by the Minnesota State High School League, will be conducted, a first in the nation.  Jim Sable, who organized the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League, said that since the league started, no shooter has suffered either an injury or a concussion.

Last summer 2,039 high school trap shooters competed in a tournament in Alexandria.

One of my favorite columns was about the five free weddings Freshwater Community Church sponsored during Valentine’s week at St. Bonifacius. Pastor John Braland performed the ceremony worth $1,500, complete with service, photographer, wedding cake, printed program and reception.

The church members, learning that expense was the biggest reason for couples not getting married, approved the free weddings.

As the year ends, I need to correct something I wrote about Bloomington Kennedy High School observing the memory of John F. Kennedy’s 50th anniversary of the president’s assassination.

I wrote that the first high school in Bloomington was named Lincoln High School.  Actually, the first high school was named Bloomington High School, and it was given the name Lincoln at the same time the second high school was named after John F. Kennedy.

I failed to mention some of the illustrious political figures that graduated from

Kennedy, including Robert Mattson, former state attorney general and, of course, Robert  Benedict, who was elected mayor of Bloomington at the age of 23 and became one of the youngest state senators at the age of 26.

If you have ideas or comments on my columns, I welcome them at [email protected]

Don Heinzman is a columnist for ECM Publishers and a member of the ECM Editorial Board.