2016 Going Viking Nominee
Paul grew up in a Scandinavian Lutheran area on the east side of St. Paul, Minnesota. During his many travels to Norway, Paul was inspired by Fritdjof Nansen’s first ski trek across Greenland in 1888. In 1980, Paul organized a team of 8 skiers to cross Greenland. This feat had only been accomplished twice before. Paul and team completed the journey expedition across norther Norway, Finland and Sweden above the Arctic Circle, with two blind skiers.
Paul joined the Sons of Norway as its vice president of public relations in 1982. While there, Paul was integral in starting what would become the Schwan’s USA cup, a soccer tournament that is now the largest known youth sporting event in the nation with 17,000 athletes from around the world. USA Cup was modeled after Norway Cup in Oslo, Norway.
In 1987, Governor Rudy Perch appointed Paul as executive director of the newly formed Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission. For nearly three decades, Paul developed the MASC into the leading amateur sports state agency in the country, while at the same time earning a Masters of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School. Under Paul’s leadership, the MASC established a network of world-class amateur sport facilities, which draw 5 million visitors annually and generate $70 million of economic impact for the state each year. Today, because of Paul’s efforts, tens of thousands of young people in Minnesota have opportunities to experience a variety of life-enriching sports.
Norwegian-American Bygdelagenes Fellesraad
Honored Partner Organization 2016
The Norwegian-American Bygdelagenes Fellesraad is the umbrella organization for 29 Bygdelag (member societies), each based on a geographical area of Norway. These lags were often founded by the immigrants themselves from those geographical areas. However, over the last several or more decades as the immigrants have passed away, the lag member societies have evolved to more of heritage and genealogical organizations, with emphasis on each geographical locality in Norway. Individuals today now join one or several bygdelag usually of their own ancestral localities.
The Bygdelagenes Fellesraad (The Council of Bygdelags) was founded in 1916 in Minneapolis. The Council was formed in a “spirit of fellowship” and was at that time to be only an advisory organization to the bygdelag. Later it was decided that the Fellesraad would stand as a connecting link with the bygdelag, and would help to “create a forum for the lag, support and guide development of the lag movement, and to manage cooperative projects for the good of all bygdelag.”
The Fellesraad celebrated its Centennial in May. Today as the Bygdelagenes Fellesraad moves forward into the next one hundred years, they will continue with the initial goals of The Council of Bygdelags and add to them. Using new technologies and social media, they look towards facilitating greater communication and parenting, while developing tools to assist the bygdelag. It is an exciting time to belong to the Fellesraad and the Bygdelag member societies, as they continue to fulfill their Norwegian-American forefathers’ vision, while learning about their own ancestors through Bygdelag participation!