By now, football fans everywhere know at least some of the story behind the Detroit Lakes native who rose from relative obscurity to become a Minnesota Vikings wide receiver. But VonRuden, who grew up in Detroit Lakes and now lives in Oregon, has written about Thielen’s early life from the perspective of those who truly know him best: his family.
“Adam is my cousin,” says VonRuden. “His dad and my mom are siblings. Growing up we spent a lot of time together at our grandparents’ home on Floyd Lake.”
The new sports biography, “Adam Thielen: From Small Town to Football Star,” is scheduled for public release on Tuesday, Oct. 16 — and VonRuden, who arrived in Detroit Lakes this weekend to take part in a friend’s impending nuptials, will be doing three book signings this week to help introduce it to the public.
“The main reason for writing this book was to help inspire children to chase their dreams,” VonRuden said. “All too often, people give up on their dreams before they even give them a chance. Adam’s story helps prove that anything is possible with hard work and perseverance. I hope that it inspires children, and adults too.”
It’s a message that VonRuden herself embraces fully. “I took a chance on a childhood dream of becoming an author at the age of 25,” she said. “It’s never too late!”
Chasing a dream is something VonRuden has done before. After graduating from St. Cloud State in the spring of 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, her first post-graduation job was teaching fifth grade at Mora Elementary School. It was there she met Ryan Jacobson, the husband of one of her fellow teachers.
“He (Jacobson) came to me with the idea of collaborating together to create a biography on Adam,” VonRuden said.
After seeking, and getting, Thielen’s permission, VonRuden was given the responsibility of interviewing family members and tracking down photos.
“The book chronologically recaps Adam’s life, from birth to the end of the previous football season (2017-18),” VonRuden said. “I wrote the first 16 chapters (covering Thielen’s birth through college years), and he (Jacobson) wrote the rest.
“Adam’s parents and sisters helped me to really make the book come to life,” she said. “The details they helped provide made the book what it is.”
Of course, VonRuden’s own childhood memories also helped: She and Thielen, along with their fellow cousins, spent a lot of time at their grandparents’ lake home together, playing games and having fun.
“As we got older, we (she and Thielen) both still saw each other and family events and around Detroit Lakes, but we were both busy living our own lives,” VonRuden said.
Still, Thielen remained a positive influence in her life. “He made sure to check in with me and see how I was doing, even after he left for college,” VonRuden said, adding that he encouraged her to take advantage of the opportunity to write the book as well.
VonRuden said the book already available for pre-orders, and will be officially released this Tuesday via major book sellers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and at the Becker County Museum gift shop starting on Saturday, Oct. 20.
VonRuden will sign books in Detroit Lakes, starting on Tuesday, Oct. 16, from 3:30-7 p.m. at Roosevelt Elementary. She’ll be at Mollberg Field from 5-8 Wednesday and the Becker County Museum from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20.