Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph took children from U of M's Masonic Children's Hospital on a red eye to the North Pole.
THE NORTH POLE — Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is said to know the way to all of the houses, but Kyle Rudolph knew the way to the North Pole.
The Vikings tight end helped whisk patients at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital and their families away to the North Pole via "Rudy's Red Eye" for the second straight year.
The families were transported via limo busses from the hospital to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, where they boarded a jet.
After bells sounded, the group arrived at the North Pole, a winter wonderland in which they were treated to dinner and sweet treats, visited with Santa and Mrs. Claus and saw live reindeer.
The children and families visited Santa's workshop and saw a space where he keeps track of all of the letters, watched some elves at work and had the chance to show their moves on a dance floor that changed colors.
"It truly is magical. You talk about the magic of the North Pole, that's what we tried to create," Rudolph said. "You see the smiles on the kids' faces and the joy that they have to get away from the problems they may be going through right now. The holiday time is supposed to be a joyful time. Unfortunately, for most of these families, that's not the case, so if we're able to bring a little joy to their life, then it's mission accomplished."
Receivers Michael Floyd and Adam Thielen also made the trip to the North Pole to join in the fun, but only Rudolph sat in a sleigh, where reindeer surrounded him during an interview with FOX 9's Jim Rich.
Rudolph also frequently visits the hospital and on Tuesday celebrated the grand opening of Kyle Rudolph's End Zone, but he said the North Pole visit is his favorite because it allows the patients to leave the hospital and their worries behind for an evening.
"It's important to spend time at the hospital, and that's why we have the End Zone there," Rudolph said. "But having the opportunity to get them away from the hospital and getting them out here, bringing them to the North Pole and seeing the excitement on their face and listening to them talk about the North Pole is a blessing to us. Between my family and I, this has got to be the best event that we do. It's our favorite by far, and it's all because of the kids."
It's been an amazing year for one of the families that Rudolph met during a holiday visit in December 2016.
Alvin, a 9-year-old, is much improved from this time a year ago thanks to a successful bone marrow transplant in June. Alvin was able to visit the North Pole with his sister Alysha, 8; father, Tony; and mother, Ade, who said the family was honored to attend.
"He had [a transplant] last year, and it wasn't successful, so he had one in June, and it was successful this time around," Tony said.
After the family posed with Santa and Mrs. Claus, Ade said of the North Pole scene, "It is beautiful, amazing, magical."
"It is a great experience," Tony added. "The kids are very excited about it. It is so amazing. God bless Kyle and his family for doing this for the kids."