MAD DADS gives love to seniors

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Senior Citizen Safety Pride Day relieves elders’ loneliness

Boom Island in Minneapolis marked the spot for Senior Citizen Safety Pride Day on August 7. Live music, grilled burgers, games and dancing from both senior and youth groups were this year’s highlights. MAD DADS of Minneapolis and other community organizations sponsored the event to show appreciation and support for seniors in the Twin Cities.

Mad Dads president V.J. Smith
Mad Dads president V.J. Smith

V.J. Smith, organizer and national president of MAD DADS, said he came up with the idea to honor seniors as a tribute to his late grandmother. “I created it [the event] because my grandmother died of Alzheimer’s.

“I went to her house and she wouldn’t let me in; I was on the run from the police at the time. I thought she was mad at me, so I never came back. But she didn’t let anyone in her house and she died of Alzheimer’s and loneliness.

“I decided that I would make sure that every year I would honor senior citizens and the greatness that they give to us and the community. This is my way of giving back and showing love to those who need our love and support.”

Sabathani Still Kickin' Dancers
Sabathani Still Kickin’ Dancers

Smith continued, “I think our seniors are left out. They’re lonely. They’re losing hope because the kids are not going back to check on them and love back on them. They’ve given [the kids] money when they needed [it] until their bank accounts were drawn out. And we leave them at nursing homes and hospitals…and senior citizens centers.

“I wish we could do more for them. They have the history. We need to listen to their stories and be guided by them.”

This year, Smith said he responded to requests to have more youth involvement by adding S.A.G. MNIC Drill and Dance Team to the lineup. The team’s high-energy routine wowed the crowd, closing out the event on a high note.

(Watch a clip of S.A.G. MNIC Drill and Dance Team below)

Rounding out the entertainment was James Samuel “Cornbread” Harris Sr., who performed a few song selections, and the Sabathani Still Kickin’ Dancers, who delighted attendees with their step routines, as in previous years.

Keyboardist Wenso Ashby, along with vocalist Sherry Reed and bassist Julious Walker, filled the riverfront picnic grounds with the smooth sounds of jazz, including a sultry rendering of Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You.”

(See the Sabathani Still Kickin’ Dancers below)

Attendee Rebecca Siefa of New Hope said she looks forward to attending every year. “This is an honor that MAD DADS is giving to the seniors and we really appreciate it!” She added that she relished the opportunity to meet new people, hear live music, and loved the food.

Catrice Champion
Catrice Champion

Catrice Champion, the “lead mother of the MAD DADS,” came all the way from Las Vegas, Nevada for the occasion. “It was important for me to be here. I honor my elders and I’m on my way to being an elder very soon. And I just feel that we need this.

“They need to know that they’ve paved the way for us…. I’m just happy to be here,” Champion said.

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Marilyn Taylor and husband Willie Taylor Sr.


Marilyn Taylor came with her husband Willie Taylor Sr. Both are members of the Urban Partnership Senior Choir, which is gearing up for an annual fall concert September 27. Proceeds for concert go towards services, information and provisions for seniors in the Twin Cities.

Taylor said she and her husband attend Senior Citizen Safety Pride Day every year. “I enjoy the fellowship with other seniors, and not being in the house…just getting out and socializing and being together.”

For more information about MAD DADS, visit the website.

Paige Elliott welcomes reader comments to