NEW ORLEANS -- When the Saints left the field Sunday with thousands of cheering Vikings fans, Thomas Morestead didn't think they'd become fans of his and cheer on the charity work he does off of the field.
"I'm blown away that they're giving to my foundation," said Saints punter and kickoff specialist Thomas Morstead. "For anybody who's doubting humanity, or the world we live in right now, just to see something like this. There's a lot of really nice people ... it's good to be reminded."
By Tuesday afternoon, $3,100 in donations poured into "What You Give Will Grow," a foundation he and his wife Lauren started to help children going through medical treatments.
"It's really just caring for the emotional side of the child in the hospital while they're there," Morstead said.
The neighborhood children sent drawings and social media was full of respect for the game he played after tearing cartilage where his ribs connect to his breastbone. Thomas gave the respect to his teammates though, who constantly take tough tackles and never quit.
"If it feels the way I feel, I don't know how they do it," he siad. "So it just gave me an enormous amount of respect for those guys."
Dr. Christopher Marrero, an Orthopedic Surgeon with LSU Health Sciences Center, said that playing through an injury like Morestead's takes guts.
"It can be more painful than a broken rib. It can cause pain with every cough, with every breath, every twist or turn or bend," he explained.
Marrero is not treating Thomas, but says with a wrap to keep the midsection immobile for weeks, patients heal 100 percent.
"It's going to be hardest on my wife, probably, because we've got three little kids and she's always expecting a little bit more help when the season's over," Morstead said.
He says of course he's devastated (relative to football) and wishes he was playing this weekend, but he's excited about next year because of the camaraderie this Saints team has.
"I'm just so grateful to be a part of this team this year, and to have been on this journey with such a good group of guys," he said. "I've had more fun playing football this year than any other, any other season I've ever had. There's just so many guys on our team that they just all care about each other, and that's really important in the locker room. I know that everybody will be excited and come back next year."
All of the donations from Minnesota will go back to help children in that community, at Children's Minnesota Saint Paul Hospital.
To date, the organization has given well over $2,500,000.00 to a wide range of causes and gotten thousands of people involved along the way.