(Minneapolis, MN) Josh Keilen delivered a low pitch that Twins mascot TC scooped up easily Saturday night. Josh was given the opportunity to throw out the first pitch during a rain-delayed game at Target Field. Its because of Josh's consistent care of veterans in Fergus Falls that gave him this once in a lifetime chance. Josh was recognized as this year's "Harmon's Heart of Baseball" award-winner. This award recognizes a person with disabilities who exemplifies the character attributes of Harmon Killebrew in their work environment. These attributes might include an "always give it your all" attitude, kindness, positivity, helpfulness, inspiring others, or always taking time to smile. Josh has worked at the Fergus Falls Veterans Home for nearly 20 years. He says he's worked there ever since he was 21. At age 40 he still loves going to work and says he gets the opportunity to serve those who have served us.
After Harmon’s passing in 2011 Nita Killebrew, his wife, set out to create a legacy for Harmon - not for the famous baseball player that he was, but for his love and compassion for people. Tammy Anderson now works with Productive Alternatives, Inc.; however, shortly after Harmon had died she reached out to Nita with a letter. Nita called her and said "We're supposed to do something together, something important." That eventually led to the Harmon's Heart of Baseball award. Nita says, “Harmon was a man of integrity and a man of compassion. I wanted to create an event to honor Harmon’s legacy and that would remind all of us of what impact we can all have on the lives of others; to smile, and to show love and encouragement to each other.” The Harmon's Heart of Baseball is an annual award that the Minnesota Twins, along with Productive Alternatives, Inc and several corporate sponsors put on each year. There are so many businesses and people who helped in various ways. The Birek Shrine Club of Otter Tail Lakes Area hosted a tailgate party down at the Zuhrah Shrine Center in Minnetonka for many busloads of people. Although the rain throughout the afternoon put a damper on much of the outdoor activities, there were plenty of smiles and laughs.
Once at Target Field, the close to 1200 ticket-holders bearing their light blue Harmon's Heart t-shirts waited patiently in an one hour and fifty minute rain delay. Some people got into their seats right away. Josh, along with about a dozen people, was escorted down to a lounge near the third base dugout to wait for the game to start. Among those accompanying Josh were his father, Steve Skauge and Tammy Anderson of Productive Althernatives, James Ardvidson with the Birak Shrine Club, corporate sponsors from Wallace Carlson Printing and various local media people. At home plate Twins great Tony Oliva handed Josh the Harmon's Heart trophy and Brian Turbeville, CEO of Wallace Carlson handed Fergus Falls Veterans Home administrator Scott Buchanan a trophy to recognize the home for providing Josh the job oportunity. Together the four stood at home plate while a video recognizing Josh as the recipient played on Target Field's Jumbotron. Wallace Carlson provided the @1200 people with t-shirts with Harmon's image on the front. Robert Blehert is a nationally known artist whose paintings have covered a number of different subjects, especially sports. He created the image for the shirts.
The Fergus Falls Veterans Home choir sang the National Anthem prior to the start of the game. Speaking of the game, fans were able to see a doozy. The Twins got on the board first with two runs in the 4th inning. Max Kepler and Marwin Gonzalez each homered for Minnesota while Yasiel Puig provided the lone run for the Indians on a solo shot.
It was another great day celebrating the many people in Minnesota who overcome challenges and makes a positive contribution at work and home.