EAGAN, Minn. — Kyle Rudolph has won the Walter Payton Man of the Year Challenge (#WPMOYChallenge) and $25,000 from Nationwide to donate to the charity of his choice, the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital.
The father of twin daughters and a newborn son posted his appreciation on social media, writing:
Jordan, Andersyn, Finley and I would like to extend a huge "Thank You" for your support in making this campaign possible. The publicity that "Dear Kyle" has generated cast a light on something I am extremely passionate about. Jordan and I count every second spent at Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital as a true blessing. And with your help and support, you have impacted the lives of families and children more than you will ever know. For that, we are forever grateful.
The Rudolph Family
Rudolph and #WPMOYChallenge was mentioned on social media more than any other player between Dec. 6 and Jan. 13.
Rudolph became connected to the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital early in his Vikings career, which began in 2011. He attended holiday-themed visits hosted by teammates and has increased his commitment to patients and families over the years.
Kyle Rudolph's End Zone at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital officially opened in March 2018 after more than a year of fundraising ($1.6 million) by the Vikings tight end.
This unique space, which was designed with input from patients, provides opportunities for patients and families to take their minds off treatments. Features include an indoor basketball hoop, a lounge, a small kitchen, a digital sports simulator, a sensory walk/area for patients on the autism spectrum and video game consoles. Kyle Rudolph's End Zone already has had more than 3,200 visits.
In addition to hosting the holiday-themed visits for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas each year, Rudolph and his family make other visits to support patients and their families. The Rudolphs also whisks patients and their families to the North Pole via jet rides to a magical place.
Families from the hospital, as well as those who have benefitted from Rudolph's generosity and kindness in his hometown of Cincinnati and his college coach, Charlie Weis, **wrote “Dear Kyle” letters to explain their gratitude for his impact.**
Rudolph did not know about the letters when he was asked to come to TCO Studios for what he thought would be a quick on-camera appearance. He was instead presented a simple envelope that contained letters that caused the tattooed tough guy to tear up from the heartfelt words of thanks.
The video was released on Vikings.com and social media, inspiring Vikings fans and others who have seen Rudolph's impact to support him in the #WPMOYChallenge.
View photos of Kyle Rudolph accepting the nomination for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award with his family.
Rudolph is the Vikings 2018 Community Man of the Year and the team's nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. He and the 31 nominees by other NFL teams are invited to attend multiple festivities in Atlanta before Super Bowl LIII.
Each year, a panel evaluates the nominees and selects the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. This year's winner will be announced during NFL Honors, the league's annual awards show that will be broadcast from Atlanta on the eve of Super Bowl LIII.