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Mike Zimmer Foundation apparel features work of Worthington artist

WORTHINGTON -- A design created by a Worthington sign company owner has made its way onto apparel being sold by Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer's foundation.

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Brad Behrends, owner of Behrends SignWorks in Worthington, designed this Zim Reapers logo for the Mike Zimmer Foundation. Zimmer is head coach of the Minnesota Vikings. The shirts are being sold on the foundation website. (Julie Buntjer/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON - A design created by a Worthington sign company owner has made its way onto apparel being sold by Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer’s foundation.

Brad Behrends spends his days painting murals, making hand-lettered and vinyl signs and putting any kind of advertising message on just about anything.

He has an eye for detail, and apparently an ear for ideas.

In mid-October, Behrends was busy working inside his Rowe Avenue business, Behrends SignWorks, when he heard a radio announcer speak of a design he offered to the Mike Zimmer Foundation featuring the words, “Zim Reapers.” The announcer was told the slogan was already trademarked by the foundation, which is led by Mike Zimmer’s daughter, Corri Zimmer.

“I looked on the internet to see if I could find the design and I couldn’t find anything,” said Behrends, who was curious because he made a design for a client this summer using a grim reaper.

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“I pulled up that design and I put Zimmer’s face in it and added the lettering,” he shared. He also used a viking horn, similar to that on a Minnesota Vikings helmet, in place of the blade on the scythe.

Behrends estimates he put about 30 minutes into the design before sharing it with Corri Zimmer on Facebook.

“I sent her a message and realized she probably wouldn’t get it if I wasn’t her Facebook friend, so I sent her a friend request,” Behrends said, admitting that he thought she’d never accept the request. “About 15 minutes later she accepted the friend request, and five minutes after that, she said they’d love to use the design.”

Roughly 20 emails were exchanged within the next several hours. The Vikings horn, because it was thought to be “a little too close for copyright,” was changed out for a blade with a blunted front, and there were a few other minor tweaks.

“I sent the design on Thursday (Oct. 20) and they were printed by Friday,” Behrends said. The foundation wanted to have the design - printed on a trio of shirt options - available before Halloween.

“I didn’t really expect anything would come from it,” Behrends said of his surprise when the foundation wanted to use his design. “It wasn’t a contest - they weren’t reaching out to anybody. They had a guy hired to design it and he was busy with other projects, and they really wanted to get it going by Halloween.

“It was just as much a timing thing as a design thing,” he added.

Approximately 500 shirts featuring Behrends’ design were sold that first weekend, and Corri Zimmer has hinted they may eventually print hoodies with the design. The shirts are featured on the foundation’s website, mikezimmerfoundation.org.

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All of the proceeds raised from the sale of the Zim Reaper shirts go to the foundation, which was created to honor Mike Zimmer’s wife, Vikki, who died of breast cancer seven years ago.

The foundation funds free football camps for kids, MVP scholarships ($10,000 for one male and one female outstanding athlete in Minnesota) to be used toward a four-year university education and, for kids battling cancer, game-day tickets to Minnesota Vikings games, plus Vikings and Mike Zimmer Foundation gear, sideline passes and a meet-and-greet with Coach Zimmer.

For his design, Behrends received some shirts featuring the logo he created, and was told he will be getting a shirt signed by Mike Zimmer.

“(Corri) told me that her dad bought a bunch of them for his players,” Behrends said. “I haven’t seen anything on the internet yet with guys that are wearing them, but I got a really good reaction - it was all over Facebook and Twitter.”

People interested in ordering a shirt can visit mikezimmerfoundation.org and click on “Shop” in the upper right hand corner of the home page. A click on one of the three shirts featuring the Zim Reapers logo takes you to a new page, and there, below the shirt, is a thank you to Brad Behrends “for creating this TOTALLY awesome artwork for us! Check out his business Facebook page and show him some love!”

“I told her (Corri Zimmer) if she ever needed any design work in the future, I’d be happy to help her out,” Behrends said.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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