Betty Lehmann has been a die-hard Vikings fan since 1961. At 90 years old, Betty enjoys life in the care center at Johanna Shores
in Arden Hills, MN and is affectionately known as “Vikings Betty.” Perhaps it is her Viking themed apartment, or her Viking branded clothing, or maybe it’s the purple nails and hair. Let’s just say, Betty is not afraid to go all in for her team.
Amy and Kara’s Playbook
Through building relationships and engaging conversations, team members at the senior living community pride themselves on truly getting to know each resident. In this case, they learned that Vikings Betty had never actually been to a Vikings game! An NFL coach couldn’t have written a better play. Quality in Living Specialist, Amy Lindahl joined Kara Reiser, Life Enrichment Director in running for the ultimate touchdown – getting Betty to a Vikings football game. Amy so happens to be the daughter of former Minnesota Viking, Wally Hilgenberg, and she wasn’t shy to reach out to all of her father’s connections trying to make a dream come true for such a special super fan. At the same time, Kara reached out to the community’s social media team to see if they could get the attention of anyone from Vikings headquarters.
Going for the “Hail Mary” pass
Amy and Kara were determined to make this dream come true and they didn’t give up. About two weeks into the “get Betty to a Vikings game campaign,” Amy received a phone call that would set the plan into action. An anonymous donor offered Betty and four friends tickets to their private, field level suite for the next scheduled home game against the Detroit Lions!
A Liberty Dream comes true
Amy and Kara quickly got to work planning for the game only five days away. But first, they had the honor of delivering the good news. Betty was speechless. Amy remembers, “She comes across as stoic and strong (and she is) but when we gave her those tickets, she just wept. You could see that it was a dream coming true.” In the days leading up to the game Betty was often found practicing her “SKOL” chant and waving her purple and gold pompoms.
It was just days before the game when the social media team heard back from Viktor Viking, the team’s mascot, who said he would try and stop by to meet Betty. And then the ultimate icing on the cake, a PHS employee with another Vikings connection confirmed Betty’s favorite player, Latavius Murray, might stop by the suite on game day!
Are you ready for some football?
Game Day arrived and the residents and staff of Johanna Shores buzzed with excitement. Everyone wanted to be a part of making Betty’s Liberty Dream come true. The culinary team made a special early morning breakfast, nursing staff ensured she was decked out in Vikings gear, and the salon colored Betty’s hair purple once more. Fellow residents cheered for Betty as she boarded the Presbyterian Homes bus to US Bank Stadium!
When Betty and her entourage (Amy, Kara, Betty’s daughter Mary, and volunteer bus driver Jack) arrived, they were in for yet another surprise. Betty’s suite had been chosen for special VIP treatment including passes to step onto the field and meet Viktor Viking and the cheerleaders before the game. Amy remembers, “Betty was in complete shock. She was just soaking it all in and enjoying the moments as they came.”
The official kickoff was near as the players ran out of the larger-than-life, fire-breathing Viking ship and on to the field. Betty felt the heat from the pyrotechnics and clearly saw all the players, including her favorite Latavius Murray wearing number 25. Just when Betty thought things couldn’t get any better, a Vikings manager personally delivered a brand new football to Betty autographed by Latavius, making him her hero!
Meanwhile back home, the Johanna Shores residents were crowded around a TV waiting for a glimpse of their friend Betty. Their wish was granted when the screen showed Vikings Betty proudly waving her pompoms and cheering on her favorite team.
Meeting number 25
Back on the field, the excitement continued when Latavius scored a touchdown and the Vikings ultimately beat the Lions. Betty and her entourage basked in the revelry of victory after the game. To Betty’s complete surprise, Latavius came sprinting up to her, grasped her hand and told her that he was honored to be her favorite player. They hugged as Betty thanked him for the autographed football and cried tears of joy.
Floating on Cloud 9
As they boarded the bus home, Betty, exhausted from a day of cheers and excitement said, “I don’t think I’ll make it to choir practice tomorrow.” But after a little dinner and a good night’s sleep, Betty did make it to practice saying she slept peacefully—replaying the Vikings victory and her ultimate Liberty Dream.
About Liberty Dreams
Learn more about PHS Liberty Dreams
About the ResoLute Grant
Amy Lindahl is a Quality in Living Specialist at Johanna Shores through the ResoLute grant program
. Learn more about this generous and life-changing program on the Empira website.