Kyle Rudolph: Excellence on and off the field

The Vikings tight end who makes efforts to give back visits Sioux Falls

By: Sanford Health News .

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Kyle Rudolph, a Minnesota Vikings tight end, stopped by Sanford Children’s Hospital on Thursday to offer support to the Results Radio Cure Kids Cancer Radiothon. Cure Kids Cancer is a program of the Children’s Miracle Network, and the radiothon continues 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday.

Rudolph, an Ohio native and Notre Dame player, talked with us at the Sanford Sports Complex, before heading to the hospital, about giving back and his special family tie to the cause of curing cancer in kids.

QUESTION: As much as you play on the field, you’ve gotten a reputation for your work off of it. Where did that start? What motivates you to be involved?

Kyle Rudolph: It’s the way I was raised. My parents instilled in my brother and my sister and myself at a young age that although we might not have everything we want, we are more fortunate than most kids. Not every kid has the opportunities that we have or the means that we have. As I continued to get older and my platform continued to grow, through high school, college and now in the NFL, I feel like I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t use my platform for good.

Q: Has it been rewarding to be recognized for giving back?

Rudolph: When I talk about the (Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Charity Challenge honor), I kind of laugh. It’s funny that you have an award for doing something that you should already be doing. Excellence off the field is just a choice, and it’s a choice that I make. My wife, Jordan, and I are passionate about the kids, not only in the Twin Cities but obviously now here in Sioux Falls. Having an opportunity to go to the Children’s Hospital and spend time with them, if at any time we can impact kids’ lives for the better, we are going to do it.

Q: With different athletes’ platforms and different ways to give back, how did you decide to give back to kids?

Rudolph: Kids have always struck a chord with us. My younger brother was born with cancer, so my family spent the first year of his life in the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. It’s not just the Children’s Hospital, it’s kids with special needs, it’s kids with certain disabilities. If it involves kids, then I’m all for it.

Q: How did your brother’s time in the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital shape who you are today?

Rudolph: I was 15 months old when my younger brother was born. All of my recollection is through stories from my parents and from family, so I just know what my parents went through and the stresses that it puts on a family. Parents dedicate all their time and energy to their sick child, and oftentimes other children or family members can be forgotten. We just try to help patients and families because we know how hard it is. We know the trials and tribulations that they have to go to.

Q: How did your brother’s story turn out?

Rudolph: My brother is 15 months younger than me, and he lived a completely normal childhood. He’s 28 years old now, living and working back home. He had a rough 15 to 18 months, but like I said, he got to live a completely normal childhood.

Q: What do you know about the Sanford Children’s Hospital?

Rudolph: I’ve heard it looks like a castle, so I’m excited to see it. Obviously everything that Sanford does is incredible; certainly the Children’s Hospital is no different. Getting to see this facility here today and the athletic side of things, it’s cool for me to see of all the areas that are impacted by Sanford.

Q: Why did you choose to be involved with Sanford?

Rudolph: Everybody that I know that is involved with Sanford are people that I respect and people that I am close to. When they asked me to be involved, I jumped at the opportunity. Anytime someone is doing good work, I want to help them out.