As Adrian Peterson wrapped his arm around Katie Timmer, a 31-year-old Special Olympics athlete standing no more than 5 feet tall, it was hard to tell whose smile was bigger.


As Adrian Peterson wrapped his arm around Katie Timmer, a 31-year-old Special Olympics athlete standing no more than 5 feet tall, it was hard to tell whose smile was bigger.
Peterson, a former standout at Oklahoma, was beaming after watching Timmer loosen up her arm and launch a football a few yards further than he did in a friendly little “competition.”
Timmer was all teeth and wide-eyed after getting to meet one of her favorite football players at a punt, pass and kick camp hosted by the reigning rookie of the year and the Minnesota Vikings on Tuesday.
“I had a blast!” said Timmer, who hasn’t let Down’s Syndrome stop her from being a swimmer, golfer, floor hockey player and occasional coach for Special Olympics Minnesota. “We love Adrian.”
On a cool and windy day, the Vikings began a second week of “organized team activities” — voluntary in name only — as they begin preparation for another NFL season. This one was special, because 50 guests of all ages came in for the day to watch practice and then participate in the clinic.
“There’s some great athletes out here also,” said Peterson, whose All Day Foundation co-sponsored the event with the Vikings. “I’m just trying to come out here and interact with them and have a good time.”
The athletes moved through three activity stations where they could punt to Vikings tight end Braden Jones, throw a pass to receiver Bernard Berrian and kick the ball off a tee to linebacker Ben Leber and quarterback Brooks Bollinger.
“It’s just a lot of fun,” Berrian said. “It’s a time where we get to kind of get away from the game and go out and have fun with a lot of kids out here who don’t get a chance to do some of the things we get to do all the time.”
Tight ends Jim Kleinsasser, Garrett Mills and Jeff Dugan, receiver Bobby Wade and longsnapper Cullen Loeffler were also on hand to help out. Safety Darren Sharper also made an appearance, meaning Timmer got to meet her two favorite Vikings.
The pairing between the Vikings and Special Olympics Minnesota began last year when fullback Tony Richardson got the camp up and running. Richardson signed with the New York Jets this offseason, but Peterson picked up where he left off after participating in the camp as a rookie last year.
“He stuck around for the whole event last year,” Special Olympics Minnesota president Dave Dorn said of Peterson. “He and his foundation approached us and said they would like to continue the event. Shoot, you can’t beat that.”
Peterson says that’s “the purpose of the All Day Foundation — helping others all day, every day. I’m just happy to go out and give back to the community. They give us so much support all year long.”
Right from the get-go, the gregarious running back who holds the single-game record for yards rushing with 296 jumped right into the mix, yucking it up with the athletes and exchanging hugs and high-fives.
Some were clearly in awe to be so close to the heroes they watch every Sunday, while others were eager to strut their stuff. More than a couple a perfect spirals zipped through the air, and not one of them was thrown by a Viking.
“I got took down in throwing the passes, who could throw the farthest,” Peterson said.
“If you’re a Vikings fan, anybody would like to be here,” Dorn said.
“For our athletes, not only do they love sports, they’re huge fans of all the local teams.”