Ben Goessling | February 9, 2017
The children Kyle Rudolph sees hooked up to medical devices at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital -- or the parents there with them, trying to force smiles through their kaleidoscopes of emotion -- could have just as easily been in his own family.
When the Minnesota Vikings tight end was 15 months old, his younger brother Casey was born with neuroblastoma, an aggressive form of cancer that forms in nerve cells and attacks infants. Casey Rudolph went straight from the hospital where he was born to Cincinnati Children's Hospital, where he spent the first year of his life undergoing chemotherapy; he had a kidney and adrenal gland removed before beating the disease.
The family returned to the hospital throughout Kyle Rudolph's childhood; only those times, it was to say thank-you by volunteering. Rudolph's years at Notre Dame were dotted with trips to children's hospitals in South Bend, and since 2011, when the Vikings drafted him, Rudolph has been a regular presence as part of the team's four-decade partnership with the Masonic Children's Hospital.
Now Rudolph is putting his own imprint on that partnership. He and his wife Jordan announced Tuesday that fundraising has been completed for Kyle Rudolph's End Zone -- a 2,500-square-foot space at the hospital where children and teenagers can play, relax and engage in healing therapies. The goal is to have the space open by the start of the 2017 football season.