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MINNEAPOLIS - New Orleans Saints punter Thomas Morstead returned to Minnesota on Friday, and he was much happier than when he left the state three weeks ago.
Morstead and the Saints were shocked on the final play of the Jan. 14 NFC divisional playoff game at U.S. Bank Stadium when Stefon Diggs caught a 61-yard touchdown pass to give the Minnesota Vikings an improbable 29-24 victory.
In the week after the game, scores of Vikings fans donated to Morstead’s charity, donating $221,143, the Star Tribune reported.
“This is from 600 Minnesotians; I don’t think I said that right,” Morstead said. “This is from Skol Nation.”
Even though the loss was painful, Morstead said he was “blown away” by the generosity of Minnesota residents.
“I keep hearing Minnesota nice. I get it now,” he said. “This is a remarkable thing to see happen.”
A Vikings fan suggested that fans contribute to What You Give Will Grow, the Star Tribune reported, and the online effort soon generated six figures.
The Child Life programs that Morstead’s foundation runs reduce stress through play, relaxation and special events and activities, the Star Tribune reported. The programs are not reimbursed by health insurance; hospitals pay the costs through donations, the Star Tribune reported.
Morstead’s foundation has given away $2.7 million since it was formed in 2012.
The punter met a fourth-grade class later in the day, and the students collected $64 to help with the donations, the Star Tribune reported.
“They were inspired to give back,” Morstead said. “It’s very humbling.”