MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Children’s Minnesota received a big check Friday from the New Orleans Saints punter.

Thomas Morstead was the first player to run back onto the field to finish the game after the Minneapolis Miracle.

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Immediately after the game, donations poured into his foundation from Minnesotans appreciative of his sportsmanship. Morstead was so moved he decided to donate the money back to our community.

“This is like a culmination of a lot of people,” Morstead said.

(credit: CBS)

Morstead thought his football season ended in Minnesota with a loss, but says he gained so much from that game. A gesture in the final play led thousands to give back to his foundation.

“It’s in our mission statement to not only give back but to inspire other people to give back and that’s literally what has happened. I mean, you can’t plan for something like this to happen,” Morstead said.

Minnesotans donated to Morstead’s foundation, What You Give Will Grow. He turned around and brought the gift back to our state.

“$221,143 dollars and this is from our foundation but really this is from 6,000 Minnesotians,” he said.

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The funds will go to support Children’s Minnesota Child Life Program.

“They’re like angels that look after these kids, nothing bad is going to happen to them when these people are around. There’s like a protection,” Morstead said.

“This is a gift that’s going to make a difference in the lives of the most amazing people on earth, which is our kids, so thank you,” Dr. Marc Gorelick said.

Morstead hopes this will encourage others to donate to their own community.

“For what we’re doing we said this should stay in your community and I think that’s one of the reasons why it exploded,” Morstead said.

There were even more surprises today. The Vikings’ Marcus Sherels — who injured Morstead in the January game — joined him to surprise a patient at Children’s with tickets to the Super Bowl.  Two Child Life professionals will go as well as a gift from the Saints.

After meeting with patients, Morstead made another visit to fourth graders from Detroit Lakes. The class raised $64 for his foundation in honor of his lesson in good sportsmanship.

Last week he surprised them with a thank you video. Morstead said their gesture made his wife cry.

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He invited them down to the Twin Cities to meet him. They left bright and early this morning. As part of their visit, the kids and their parents also got to check visit the NFL Experience.

Jennifer Mayerle