Within a few seconds of hitting play on "Dear Kyle," you may be inclined to reach for a tissue.
Your heart may gently ache as you hear families recount the impact that one man has had on their lives. Somehow, 7 minutes and 48 seconds capture the of the story of a lifetime. Or, in this case, many lifetimes.
When veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph was announced as the Vikings Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee, it was all hands on deck for the Minnesota Vikings to showcase the incredible work Kyle and his wife, Jordan, do in the Twin Cities community and specifically at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital. Instead of asking Kyle to tell the story from his standpoint, the team decided to reach out to those who Kyle has helped throughout his career.
The competition for this honor was incredibly fierce. Thirty-one other NFL franchises also nominated a player who had done exceptional work off of the field. in 2019, nominees from other teams included big names like Dak Prescott, Marshawn Lynch and Von Miller. The winner of the award would receive $250,000 donated to United Way in his name and up to $250,000 donated to the winner's charity of choice. The stakes were high, and Kyle deserved a chance to stand out from the crowd.
As mentioned, the Vikings decided to take an approach that tugged at the heartstrings of everyone involved. The concept of 'Dear Kyle' interlaced efforts from both film and design techniques. In the video, Kyle sat down and was presented a folder of letters. Words from the Delgado family reminded Kyle of his small friend who faced indescribable challenges, fought hard but tragically passed away at age 5. The folder also included notes from other patients and family members, reconnections with people from his hometown of Cincinnati and Elder High School, former Notre Dame Head Coach Charlie Weis and Jordan. The ink — handwritten or typed — made the tattooed tough guy tap his feet and tear up. As the gratitude gushed from page to page, so did he.
Although Kyle was not named this year's Walter Payton Man of the Year, the "Dear Kyle" video generated enough social media conversation to help him win the Charity Challenge fan voting aspect of the Man of the Year program. This victory resulted in an additional $25,000 for the Kyle Rudolph End Zone and the families who rely on the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital.
The touching video that has been viewed more than 1,637,388 times and shared 10,404 times on Twitter, viewed 2,398,654 times and shared 31,186 times on Facebook. In addition to the impact on social media, the video tallied 23,827 views on the team's website, 15,064 views on the mobile app and 47,276 views on YouTube.
In total, the 'Dear Kyle' story was told to more than 4,122,209 people, and that number continues to grow. It was the #1 video on the Vikings social media channels and was the #3 most popular post in total for the entire season.
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