Local chefs compete during the 2019 Kings of the Wings cook-off and tailgating party to benefit youth activities at the Sanford Health Thief River Falls Wellness Center.

Kings of the Wings cooks up fun and fitness for local kids

June 21, 2019

Gymnasts like Madison Bregier are able to tumble, cartwheel and soar with the help of wings.

Hot wings, that is.

This year’s annual Kings of the Wings cook-off and family-friendly tailgate party, presented by Northern State Bank, helped raise more than $20,000 to purchase new, state-of-the-art gymnastics equipment and support other youth programming priorities at the Sanford Health Thief River Falls Wellness Center.

For the second year in a row, the Sanford Health Foundation teamed up with the local Norskies hockey club to host this evening of great food and fun at the Ralph Engelstad Arena. Since 2018 alone, it has brought the Thief River Falls community together to raise nearly $50,000 to expand health and wellness opportunities for local kids like Madison.

‘An outlet for kids’ creativity and energy’

“Proper equipment is crucial to learning and growing in gymnastics,” said Madison’s mother, Cori Bregier. “’Thank you’ just doesn’t seem like enough. We as parents so appreciate knowing that our kids have the proper resources available so they can fully benefit from the gymnastics program. Donations truly have made — and continue to make — a difference!”

Cori said Madison mostly enjoys the one-on-one coaching time focused on improving specific skills.

“The biggest impact for my kiddo is her improved balance, strength and self-confidence,” Cori said. “She’s pushing herself to work harder, and with the coach’s encouragement, is accomplishing so many things.”

Madison’s coach, Cody Knutson, said the gymnastics program is open to boys and girls from 18 months old to teenagers and all ability levels. He said female artistic gymnasts are the largest portion of the program and train on four apparatuses: floor, beam, vault and uneven bars.

“As a coach, I have been able to see the grand changes as well as the subtle ones in the students I teach, while learning and growing as a person and athlete from working with them as well,” Cody said. “This has been made possible through the generosity of the donations to the program, and the support of the community.”

Cody said because of the program, there are gymnasts with aspirations of pursuing their training through college, or becoming coaches themselves someday.

“Without a facility and the equipment we have been able to train on, our gymnastics program would not be able to exist and our gymnasts would not have a program to be proud to be a part of,” he said.

Cori said she brought her daughter to the Wellness Center to work on strength and balance, and other dance skills. Gymnastics was just the right opportunity to expand on those skills.

“Recreational activities are so limited in our community — it’s great to have gymnastics as an option, and an outlet for kids’ creativity and energy,” she said.


Help keep kids moving

Thank you to everyone who made this year’s Kings of the Wings a success and helped give local kids fun ways to stay fit and active. If you missed out on the fun, you can still support the Youth Health and Wellness Fund in Thief River Falls by giving online or calling our team at (218) 683-4405.

Stay tuned for details about the 2020 Kings of the Wings!