The holiday season is meant for being home with family, enjoying the warmth of company and the familiarity of your own bed. But what about those unable to stay home for the holidays? What about the children who have to wake up Christmas morning in a hospital bed? It is these kids the Vikings largely have in mind as they do their work in the Minnesota community. Players and coaches alike sacrifice their time, energy and money to bring just a little bit of holiday joy to the families who are having a hard time finding it right now.

Rhodes, Zimmer Play Santa

Xavier Rhodes has made a habit of both shutting down opposing receivers and opening up his wallet around Christmas time. For the fourth year in a row, the Pro Bowl corner brought toys and gifts for patients at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. Rhodes said that his goal is to provide a little bit of seasonal tidings to families whose Christmas celebrations have to take place in a hospital.

Additionally, Rhodes is raising money for Fanconi anemia, a pediatric bone marrow disease. Rhodes was inspired by his college coach, Jimbo Fisher, who has a son with the disease.

Rhodes also joined a few of his teammates, Brian Robison, Terence Newman, Ben Gedeon, Harrison Smith and Kevin McDermott, to help head coach Mike Zimmer with a little project of his own. Zimmer and his players invited 25 kids from hospitals around Minnesota on a $200 shopping spree to Dick’s Sporting Goods, as well as to Chick Fil-A dinner. Zimmer also paid for a limousine bus to take them to and from the store.

The event was funded by the Mike Zimmer Foundation, whose mission statement is:

to give back to the youth of Minnesota and hopefully branch out to greater areas in the future. We want to better lives of children in need by helping them chase their dreams, motivating them to do so and promote a healthy and active way of living as well as stress the importance of education, hard work, and teamwork.

Zimmer started the foundation in 2015 in memory of his wife Vikki, who passed away in 2009.

Rudolph Opens “End Zone”

Tight end Kyle Rudolph and his wife, Jordan, have made a trip to the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital each year during the holiday season. This year, however, they decided to do a little bit extra: open “Kyle Rudolph’s End Zone.”

Kyle Rudolph with his wife, Jordan, at the ribbon-cutting for "Kyle Rudolph's End Zone."
Kyle Rudolph with his wife, Jordan, at the ribbon-cutting for “Kyle Rudolph’s End Zone.” (Vikings.com)

The “End Zone” is a space designed to entertain, assist and relax children at the hospital. It contains a kitchen, television with video games, a basketball hoop, a sports simulator and areas for patients with behavioral disorders.

Kyle and Jordan have had this vision for two years and described it as “a dream come true.”

Check out other stories of the NFL’s work in the community by using the hashtag #MoreThanFootballFPC.

–Sam Smith is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Vikings and Full Press Coverage NFC North. Like and

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