BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. — Adam Thielen and his wife Caitlin officially launched the Thielen Foundation in mid-September with a $100,000 donation to the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's hospital.
But the couple also wanted to put their beliefs into action, which they did Monday night.
The Vikings wide receiver and his wife hosted the foundation's inaugural Winter Topgolf Classic at the golfing venue in Brooklyn Center, the family's first big event to help give back to the Twin Cities and surrounding communities.
"We're super excited," Thielen said. "We were excited to finally launch the foundation, but to have our first event and raise some funds and really get our foundation off the ground … it's been a great start so far."
Caitlin Thielen added: "We've had some hospital visits, which is awesome, but we're really excited to get it started and have all these people out here to support it."
Participants could pay to golf at one of the heated bays, or just to socialize at the event. Besides a little golfing competition, there was a hole-in-one challenge for $50 per shot.
Attendees could also bid in a silent auction that featured numerous hot items, including an autographed photo of Thielen and Stefon Diggs, an autographed Purple People Eaters helmet, a signed Muhammad Ali photo and a flag from the Masters tournament signed by legendary golfers Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.
All of the funds raised from the event will go toward the behavioral health unit at the hospital.
"Our main thing is helping youth achieve their full potential. We've partnered with the Masonic Children's Hospital in the mental health department and want to make a big impact there to start," Thielen said. "We also want to help underprivileged youth across the cities and the state.
"Just give kids resources that maybe we had as kids that they don't have and try to make a difference in their lives and try to help them become successful," Thielen added. "It's really cool for us to hear stories from people who have family members [affected by mental health], or maybe they've gone through some stuff, and that's why they're passionate about giving back."
And while the focus was on giving back to a worthy cause, there was also some fun involved as the event centered around one of Thielen's favorite hobbies.
"We wanted to do something different. Obviously being a golfer, I've been to Topgolf in the past, and we thought this would be a really cool idea," Thielen said of the venue that opened in September. "We hadn't really seen anything like it before, so we thought we'd try it out."
Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph joked that the event was just a chance for Thielen to show off his skills with his sticks.
"Golf in the winter in Minnesota … it's a lot of fun," Rudolph said. "It's awesome for our fans to come out and get to see us in a different light with golf clubs in our hands … but pretty much all of us except for Adam aren't very comfortable."
Besides Rudolph, Thielen was joined by quarterbacks Kirk Cousins, Trevor Siemian and Kyle Sloter, tight end David Morgan and wide receiver Brandon Zylstra, offensive linemen Mike Remmers, Tom Compton and Storm Norton, cornerback Xavier Rhodes and long snapper Kevin McDermott.
Jared Gangelhoff was decked out in Vikings gear and participated in the event with a few buddies. He said he appreciated the sincere impact that Thielen and other players make in the community.
"It's very cool. I don't know how you can describe it other than it feels genuine," Gangelhoff said. "You see them, they'll shake your hand and say hi and talk to you … it's like they're just walking down the street.
"It's really cool that they'd be willing to do this because they seem bigger than life," Gangelhoff added. "As I fan, I really appreciated."
Cousins and Rudolph said they were more than happy to lend a hand to one of the most-respected members of the team.
"He's obviously a great teammate, so as teammates we want to support him in what he's doing," Cousins said in the packed venue. "Clearly the community of the Twin Cities supports Adam, and it's a great thing to get everybody together here."
Added Rudolph: "He's done so much throughout his career to this point by helping teammates and supporting teammates in their endeavors, so to see them have a cause of their own is pretty cool."
Monday's event was the first big showing for the Thielen Foundation and the start of many more to come.
"My wife and I had been talking about it for a long time. Being from the state of Minnesota, we felt like that's why we're here, and we feel like God put us in this position to be able to give back," Thielen said. "Being from here, we're really excited about it and wanted to get it going."
Caitlin Thielen added: "We saw a passion to give back to people in Minnesota. Why not give back where you grew up? This is so fulfilling to us."