Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph is no stranger to the end zone on the field. Patients at Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital know Kyle for a different type of end zone – one that he created to provide a special getaway break from their treatments. Thanks to support from fans across the country, Kyle Rudolph’s End Zone will get some much-needed funding.
On Sunday, Nationwide announced that Kyle, the Vikings Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award nominee, had won the fourth annual Charity Challenge. Nationwide will donate $25,000 to Kyle’s foundation, Kyle Rudolph’s End Zone.
Nationwide, the presenting sponsor of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, launched the Charity Challenge on Dec. 6, 2018, to further recognize and promote the 32 nominees for this year’s award. The month-long social media promotion gave NFL fans the opportunity to show support for their favorite nominee and offered players a chance to secure a $25,000 contribution to their charity of choice, courtesy of Nationwide.
Fans were invited to vote for their favorite nominee by using that player’s unique hashtag on Twitter. The player whose unique hashtag was used the most by Jan. 13, 2019, received the $25,000 contribution. Kyle’s hashtag was used nearly 470,000 times on Twitter.
“My wife Jordan and I are extremely honored to have won Nationwide’s Charity Challenge and also very humbled by the overwhelming support from Vikings fans as well as fans across the league,” said Kyle. “Your effort will make a difference in the lives of patients and families at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s hospital, and for that we are very thankful!”
“Nationwide created the Charity Challenge to provide another national platform for the nominees to share their foundations’ stories and the ways they are positively impacting their communities. This year’s Charity Challenge certainly accomplished that goal,” said Jennifer MacKenzie, Nationwide’s senior vice president of marketing. “We congratulate Kyle Rudolph on winning this year’s challenge and thank all of the nominees and their fans for participating.”
Inspired by his brother, Casey, who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma as a child, Kyle and his family designed Kyle Rudolph’s End Zone as a space for hospital patients and their families to relax, engage in healing therapies and interact with other children. Equipped with a sports simulator, video game lounge and community kitchen, the venue is special getaway for children undergoing treatment.
In addition to the project, the Rudolph family has hosted a variety of programs for hospital patients. On Dec. 17, 2018, the third annual Rudy’s Red Eye Express event transported dozens of children and their families via private jet to meet Santa Claus and his elves in the North Pole.
San Francisco 49ers kicker Robbie Gould finished second with more than 390,000 uses of his hashtag, while Carolina Panthers defensive lineman Julius Peppers finished third with nearly 210,000 hashtag uses. Gould’s foundation, The Goulden Touch, will receive $10,000 and Pepper’s charity, The Julius Peppers Hurricane Florence Relief Fund, will receive $5,000 – all courtesy of Nationwide. During the promotion, fans used the 32 different team nominees’ hashtags more than 1.7 million times.
The 2018 NFL season marks the fifth year of Nationwide’s sponsorship of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, which recognizes a player for his excellence on and off the field. During the first four seasons, Nationwide contributed more than $1 million to the charitable foundations represented by the various nominees.
The winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award will be announced during NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime special airing nationally on Feb. 2, 2019, the night before Super Bowl LIII, from 9-11 p.m. EST on CBS.
For more information on the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide, please visit www.nfl.com/manoftheyear.