Holler: Sullivan, Vikings giving back

John Sullivan (Hannah Foslien/Getty)

Center John Sullivan is making a statement donation to build a playground for ailing kids at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital.

At a time when athletes make more news when they do something wrong compared to when they do something right – bad news sells better than good news – you probably won't hear too much mention of John Sullivan's contribution to the Minnesota community at large. Those who vehemently opposed a new Vikings stadium likely will ignore the positive impact the NFL has as part of the Minnesota landscape. In a dollars-and-cents view of the world, that shouldn't be surprising. But what Sullivan is doing behind the scenes is a humanitarian effort done without the fanfare or the level of publicity it should receive. He's giving back. Quietly. Until now.

Sullivan has donated $150,000 to help build a playground at the University of Minnesota's Amplatz Children's Hospital. In addition, Chad Greenway's Lead the Way Foundation has donated $25,000 and the Vikings, through the Vikings Children's Fund, has donated $25,000 to get the project completed.

At 2:15 p.m. Tuesday, a ceremony will take place at the Amplatz Children's Hospital site (2450 Riverside Ave. in Minneapolis) to name the playground Sullivan Playground in appreciation for his donation. The Amplatz Children's Hospital specializes in pediatric programs ranging from surgery, imaging and intensive care facilities to heart and cancer treatment that impact children from infancy to age 12. The hospital is one of the three largest kidney transplant programs in the world. The playground is intended to provide a haven of childhood normalcy to the patients and their brothers and sisters to have moments of enjoyment at a time when the difficulty encircles the families impacted by childhood illness.

Sullivan didn't make his donation based on publicity. It's likely that his donation will scarcely be referenced in the Twin Cities media, much less on a regional or national scale. You can put a price on a state-of-the-art/all-accessible playground designed specifically to meet the needs of ailing children. Presumably, that price is $200,000. You can't put a price on a good day for ailing children, their siblings and their parents at a time when good days are rare and smiles are remembered.

Hopefully, those legislators and citizens alike that opposed a new stadium that would assure the Vikings would remain in Minnesota will take note (begrudgingly, if necessary) of the contributions made by Sullivan, Greenway and the Vikings organization. They didn't have to. If they hadn't, nobody would have noticed. Charity comes more from the heart than the wallet. But, the fact is, a state-of-the-art playground – with a price tag of $200,000 – is going to be constructed for the children of families facing catastrophe and bring smiles to the faces of those that appreciate a smile more than most.

Not a penny of taxpayer money went into it. Without the Vikings and players like Sullivan and Greenway, a much-needed playground wouldn't have been built. But it's going to. Why? Because the Vikings give back. They share their prosperity with those most in need. You can put a price tag on a playground, but you can't put a price on what it will mean long after the cement dries. A child's laughter, much less the laughter of a child who may never see adulthood, is priceless.

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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