Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph joined Timberwolves rookie Josh Okogie and former Twins first baseman Justin Morneau at the Ronald McDonald house to benefit local youth.
MINNEAPOLIS – Kyle Rudolph spent part of his off day on screen time.
The Vikings tight end joined patients and their family members for a "Minnesota Sports Day" at the Ronald McDonald House.
Rudolph, Wild defensemen Ryan Suter, Timberwolves first-round draft pick Josh Okogie and former Twins first baseman and four-time All-Star Justin Morneau helped announce the donation of 77 televisions by TCL.
Regularly involved with the Twin Cities community, Rudolph said it was exciting to see the entire Ronald McDonald House retrofitted with televisions that will benefit those staying on its campus during hospital treatments.
"Kind of the perception of TV, as a kid it's like, 'Get outside and play and turn off the TV,' but nowadays the TVs are so smart and you can do so much on them from an educational standpoint," said Rudolph, a father of twin daughters with a son on the way. "And then everyone knows that in Minnesota, we're subject to the indoors for a good amount of the winter.
So to have something for these kids here where they can learn, play video games and do all that kind of stuff here on some of the best technology is pretty cool."
Rudolph, Okogie, Morneau and Suter spent time playing video games with the young people before setting aside the final part of the afternoon to sign autographs and pose for photos.
Tuesday's event was just one aspect of Rudolph's involvement to the Twin Cities community, and his commitment was illustrated through one mother who came to the Ronald McDonald House to receive an autograph for her 14-year-old daughter.
Nathalia is currently battling osteosarcoma for the second time and had hoped to meet Rudolph and the others in person but instead was hospitalized at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital.
Her mother, Katy Augusta, watched with a smile as Rudolph played video games, despite wishing her Nathalia could be there.
Augusta, who was asked by Nathalia to attend the event, expressed gratitude for the athletes taking time out of their day to make a difference, no matter how insignificant it may seem.
"For these kids that are in the hospital all the time, what we take for granted, it means a lot to them. Because they understand. They don't get a chance to do that stuff," Augusta said. "Like my daughter, she's stuck in a hospital. So little moments like this, just playing a game, it means the world – just having a sense of normalcy in their not-normal world, it means so much."
Augusta explained that Nathalia has been battling cancer over a two-year span and has been in and out of the hospital during that time. As a patient at the children's hospital, Nathalia regularly utilizes Kyle Rudolph's End Zone, a space that was opened by Kyle and his wife, Jordan, last winter.
"It's [so difficult] being confined to your hospital room, especially when you're in the hospital for a long time, it gets sterile," Augusta said. "So to be able to have Kyle Rudolph's [End Zone] just be normal, it's great. I'm so appreciative and grateful for that space.
"Unfortunately that's our life – we don't know when this cancer's going to rear its ugly head," Augusta added. "It takes so much of their life away."
While Nathalia would have liked to pose for a photo with one of her favorite Vikings, the tight end still made a memorable experience for the young fan when he FaceTimed with her from the autograph table.
Rudolph later said he was touched to hear about Nathalia and that the uniquely designed area at the hospital has provided a sense of relief, no matter how small, during incredibly difficult circumstances.
"It never gets old to hear how much fun the kids are having and how much they're enjoying the space. For us, that's why we did it," Rudolph said. "It's far exceeded our wildest dreams in terms of the amount of use it's getting, how much the patients are liking it.
"Any time we hear stories about how much the kids or their brothers and sisters are enjoying it and spending time there, it makes us feel good – it's serving its purpose, and it's accomplishing what we want it to accomplish," Rudolph added.