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'Minnesota will always be home': Thielen Foundation vows to continue despite Vikings departure

Adam and Caitlin Thielen have donated millions to help youth development and mental health in Minnesota.

MINNEAPOLIS — Adam Thielen is parting ways with the Minnesota Vikings, but his foundation isn't going anywhere.

Hours after the team announced it was releasing its homegrown star receiver, the foundation, that he started with his wife Caitlin, announced its commitment to continuing its mission in Minnesota with a post on Instagram:

"Minnesota will always be home

We are so proud of both Adam and Caitlin and their dedication to uplifting the communities of the upper midwest. We congratulate Adam on an amazing 10 years as a Minnesota Viking and are looking forward to his next step!" reads the statement in part.

The Thielen Foundation began with a commitment to youth mental health and a partnership with the M Health Fairview Masonic Children's Hospital three years ago.

 "They said, 'This is what we want to do, provide a voice for kids who don't necessarily always have that platform,'" said Nick Engbloom with the University of Minnesota Foundation. "That's when the Thielen Foundation was born."

That initial partnership included a $100,000 donation and journals for young patients, and it grew into a special, "The Thielen Family Workout Room", following the pandemic.

"We know, from the literature, that our kiddos do a lot better when they have physical activity," said Andy Folstad, nurse manager for the mental health unit. "Coming here, they can do that. It just really helps lift their spirits and get them to a good spot." 

But for as valuable as the new space and workout equipment have been, Folstad says the support from a local hero has meant even more.

"With our kids here, when they come in they are kind of at the lowest of the low," he said. "When you're going to inpatient mental health, you're really struggling and you need support and help and knowing that there is a community member like Adam out there providing support for you and giving you opportunities and things for you to do while you're here, is really big." 

The Foundation has also come up big for all kinds of Minnesota schools. It has spent years providing scholarships to student-athletes and funding equipment upgrades for teams throughout the state. 

One of the biggest donations came in 2021 when the Thielen Foundation provided funding and support to provide new lights for the Brooklyn Center football team. Athletic Director Nate Gautsch, says that donation still resonates today.

"When the news broke this morning, I have a kid in my class who is a member of the football team and he was talking about how Adam showed up at a football game to watch these guys play, and took time to take pictures with these kids," said Brooklyn Center athletic director, Nate Gautsch. "So the memory and what this kid was talking about, wasn't about the money spent on the equipment, it was about making that personal touch and impact with these kids. They show up to be a part of it."

Showing up will now be harder for the now former Vikings star, but it won't change his impact.

"His life will take him places right now for, we don't know how many more years, but know that every summer they come back," Engbloom said. "They're going to continue to do big things for this community whether it's a charity or giving back personal time."

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