Adam Thielen learned ropes of giving back from Vikings players before him

Adam and Caitlin Thielen started the Thielen Foundation in 2018 and have donated more than $2.5M to various organizations.

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen smiles to the crowd after scoring a touchdown against New England in the fourth quarter on Thanksgiving, Nov. 24, 2022, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. The Vikings beat the Patriots 33-26.
John Autey / St. Paul Pioneer Press
We are part of The Trust Project.

EAGAN, Minn. -- Thinking back to when he was a young player breaking into the NFL, Adam Thielen still has vivid memories of going to community events throughout the Twin Cities.

Whether it was attending a charity outing put on by former Minnesota Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway, or visiting the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital with former Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph, Thielen remembers wanting to follow in their footsteps.

“There were so many guys that really kind of paved the way to say, ‘This is how it’s done,’ ” Thielen said. “I remember going to their events as a young player and hearing some of the people they’ve impacted get up and talk. It was in those moments I was like, man, hopefully I get the platform and the resources to be able to do similar things.”

Now a decade into his improbable NFL career, the 32-year-old Minnesota native has the platform and the resources, and he’s using it to make a difference. He started the Thielen Foundation with his wife Caitlin in 2018 and together they have donated more than $2.5 million to various organizations throughout the Twin Cities.

That helped Thielen become the team’s 2022 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee. The official announcement came Tuesday, and the winner of the prestigious award will be announced on the Thursday leading up to Super Bowl LVII.


“It’s not me as an individual,” Thielen said. “It’s a collective effort of a lot of guys in this locker room that have done the work to deserve an award like this.”

Adam Thielen.jpeg
Adam Thielen

The mission statement of the Thielen Foundation references empowering youth in Minnesota to reach their full potential in life. It’s intentionally broad because when the Thielens started they weren’t sure which direction they wanted to take it.

“We knew that we were very passionate about youth,” Thielen said. “We felt at that age that things can be very impactful.”

It’s reached new heights since then, impacting more children than they can count.

“It’s unbelievable where it’s gone and how it’s impacted some of these kids,” Thielen said. “I think moving forward we can continue to build on things that we’ve seen make a bigger impact and try to continue to grow.”

Looking back on it now, Thielen sometimes still can’t believe where life has taken him. Everyone knows the story at this point.

Cousins threw three touchdown passes, besting Derek Carr's two for the AFC in likely his last appearance in Las Vegas as a member of the Raiders.
According to NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero, the Carolina Panthers have hired Evero as their next defensive coordinator.
Whoever head coach Kevin O’Connell decides on will be tasked with fixing a group that recently finished No. 31 in the league in total defense
A replacement for Eagles OLB Hasson Reddick, Hunter will join five teammates Sunday in Las Vegas
Winners to be announced at the NFL Honors event on Feb. 9
Jefferson led the NFL with 128 catches and 1,809 receiving yards in his third season. He would become the first wideout ever to win AP MVP honors.
Ultimately, hiring a defensive coordinator will be O’Connell’s call, and he has to nail it
Analyst Jason Fitzgerald, using a possible cap number of $225 million, has the Vikings now at $24.55 million over the cap, which gives them the third-least amount of room among all NFL teams.
Minnesota fired Ed Donatell on Thursday after the Vikings’ first-round playoff loss to the New York Giants
Peterson, 32, will become a free agent in March after playing the past two seasons for Minnesota

Coming from Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, he was undrafted out of Minnesota State Mankato. He came to the Vikings on a rookie tryout and spent a full season on the practice squad. He made the team as a special-teams ace, proved himself as a starter, and developed into a dominant, sure-handed receiver in the league.

Now he’s among the best players in Vikings franchise history, and almost certainly will retire having played his whole career with his home-state team.


“We feel like we’ve been blessed to have this platform that we probably weren’t supposed to have,” Thielen said. “We feel that when we’ve been blessed that way, we need to give back in a major way because we’re so thankful for where we’re at.”


This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

What To Read Next
The temporary home for the Arizona Coyotes has a capacity of 4,600 people
Travel, expected birth of Correa's 2nd child ultimately led to decision to not compete for his native Puerto Rico
Final 9 holes of play concluded Monday morning after wind, darkness postponed earlier rounds
An ESPN NFL Draft analyst has projected North Dakota State offensive lineman Cody Mauch to get selected in the first round of the NFL Draft.