Bison superfan seeks tickets for veterans

CAMPBELL, Minn. — Alana Christensen remembers the day she was inspired to get as many veterans as she could to North Dakota State football games. It was during the Bison’s Football Championship Subdivision NCAA playoff game last December against Montana State at the Fargodome, during a break in the action.

“When the announcer asked all the veterans at the game to stand and be recognized. They did and we all clapped and it was good. But I really didn’t think there were as many veterans at the game as I would’ve expected. So I thought to myself, ‘We can do better,’ “ Christensen said.

So the rural Campbell, Minn., resident and NDSU football superfan — so profiled earlier this autumn by Bison Illustrated magazine — came up with the idea to have fans donate their tickets so local veterans could attend a Bison game. Christensen figured there was no better time than the immediate to get this good-hearted task done, so she set the goal of getting as many veterans as she could to the next weekend’s game against Colgate.

“We did it all in about three or four days before that playoff game,” she said. “It was a little crazy. But there were tickets available because it wasn’t a sellout and we found many people willing to help us out. We got 140 veterans to that game, including some from Project HART, which is homeless veterans.

“Some of those guys were so appreciative and so thankful because they’d never been to a Bison game. It was a big deal. This year, we thought, ‘Let’s do it again, but let’s be a little more organized.’ “

That’s why Christensen contacted The Forum, and other media outlets, looking for help in spreading the word about collecting tickets and cash donations so she and her team of volunteers can get veterans to the Nov. 9 game during which NDSU plays Western Illinois at the Fargodome. It’s the perfect confluence of circumstances for this year’s event. The following Monday, Nov. 11, is Veterans Day. And the Saturday of the game is the deer hunting opener in both North Dakota and Minnesota, meaning many Bison season-ticket holders likely will be in the field and unable to attend the game.

“The stars are aligned for that game. It’s not a playoff game, but the veterans won’t care. I know they’ll be thrilled just to attend the game,” Christensen said.

That doesn’t mean the quest isn’t without problems, including one big one: While Christensen already has about 70 tickets donated and spoken for, she’s had nearly 200 veterans request tickets that she doesn’t yet have.

She needs tickets. Or money. Or both.

“For every donation I get, it seems like I get five or six calls from veterans who want to go to the game,” Christensen said. “I’m a little bit behind the eight-ball.”

With 10 days until the game, Christensen is asking that those willing to donate their tickets to call her immediately. Her phone number is 701-899-2578. She will figure out a way to pick up the tickets.

If you don’t have tickets but would like to donate money that will be used to buy any tickets still available through NDSU, Christensen set up a GoFundMe account that had raised about $4,300 as of Tuesday afternoon. Her goal was $4,500, but she might raise it to $5,000 because she’s had so many ticket requests.

“I figure $5,000 could buy about 90 tickets, given the average ticket price,” Christensen said. “But that would only get 45 veterans in the game, because most of them are asking for two tickets so they can bring a spouse or guest. We are going to need a bunch of tickets.”

If you’d like to make an online donation, you can click here to reach Christensen’s GoFundMe page.

“I would say eight out of 10 people who are asking for tickets have never been to a Bison game before. This is their first time getting to go to a game. I think that’s important,” Christensen said. “Many of them that I’ve talked with say, ‘Well, we’re on a pension and we don’t have the $50 it costs to buy a ticket.’ Another one I hear is that they don’t know there are tickets available. They believe all the tickets are sold out and they can’t get any. We want to change that. Here’s our chance to get some veterans who might not have this opportunity into a Bison game.”