"Set a goal, work hard, and never give up."
Those words from soon-to-be published author Lindsay VonRuden might have been said in the context of her realizing her dream of becoming a writer, but they could also be applied to the subject of the book she co-wrote with children's book author Ryan Jacobson: Adam Thielen.
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, 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 town 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," says VonRuden, a Detroit Lakes native who graduated from high school here in 2012. "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 Detroit Lakes High School, VonRuden went on to attend St. Cloud State University. Even as a freshman, she had aspirations of studying abroad, so she took advantage of an opportunity to spend five months in South Africa.
"I am so thankful I had the courage to go because I know I would have regretted it if I didn't," she said in a 2013 interview with the Detroit Lakes Tribune.
From Jan. 29 through June 23 of that year, VonRuden attended Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, a South African city populated by about 1.3 million people. While she was there, she took full advantage of her surroundings, and "rode ostriches, went skydiving in Cape Town, hiked Table Mountain - one of the seven nature wonders of the world - shark cage dived and bungee jumped off of the world's tallest bungee jump, Bloukrans Bridge," as she told Tribune writer Pippi Mayfield.
After returning home, she graduated 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, where 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," said VonRuden.
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 added. "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," said VonRuden.
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.
After finishing the book this past summer, VonRuden decided to take yet another chance, and relocate out west.
"Early this fall, I had the opportunity to move to Oregon, and had to make the difficult decision of resigning from my job or staying in Minnesota," she said. "I decided to take a risk and make the move... I figured if I end up not liking it, I can always move back."
As for the book, VonRuden says that it is 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.
"If anyone would like to meet the author, I will be in Detroit Lakes doing a few book sales and signings this week," she added. "The signings will be on Tuesday, Oct. 16 at Roosevelt Elementary from 3:30 to 7 p.m., Wednesday (Oct. 17) at Mollberg Field from 5 to 8 p.m., and Saturday (Oct. 20) at the Becker County Museum from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m."
In between, VonRuden plans to spend as much time as possible with friends and family, which includes parents Mary and Brad VonRuden and her brothers, Dalton and Dawson, before heading back to Oregon.
"I'm still getting settled, but after all of my book events are done I plan to apply at some schools in Oregon to get my foot in the door out there," she says, adding, "I love new adventures."