Twins Winter Caravan stop at Mayo Clinic, reveals unexpected connection

Friends Made Along the Way

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(ABC 6 News) – The start to the baseball season will be here before we know it, and the Minnesota Twins are getting people pumped up for its 2024 season with the start of the Winter Caravan.

The Winter Caravan has been a longstanding tradition to connect fans with the players. But the fans and players never know what connections and new friendships will be made at stops, like one made here at St. Marys on Tuesday.

“If we can just get them a little bit of opportunity and hope, then we’ve done our job well,” said Twins Radio Color Commentator and World Series Champion, Dan Gladden.

That was the case for Sam Powers, a 14-year-old high school freshman from Brandon, SD.

Sam has had a long two years. He’s been treated for scoliosis, and arrived back at Mayo Clinic for spinal fusion surgery last week in the frigid cold.

As the week warmed up and Sam healed, he and more than thirty other kids receiving treatment at Mayo Clinic got a special visit from the Twins on Tuesday.

What Sam didn’t know, is he’d be meeting a Twins player who made South Dakota his home; reliever Caleb Thielbar.

“Driving like four hours and coming here a cuz, this is like awesome just seeing somebody where I am from really just makes me feel like I am back home,” said Sam Powers.

“There’s things going on in his life that have taken him here and just to. If I can make him feel a little bit more at home, that’s great,” said Thielbar. “That’s why we do this type of stuff and why we come on the Caravan to these place and it’s just an awesome feeling.”

For Sam’s mom, Danielle Powers, the new friendship with Thielbar was just a bonus.

Sam has struggled sitting in a chair for extensive time as his spine has healed. On Tuesday, he sat still the whole time the Twins Caravan made their visit with patients.

“It was so bad he would cry, and he doesn’t cry. And to see him sit here for a record, I’ll tell his PT, a record of 25 minutes I think, was amazing. Where we were before couldn’t help him but Mayo Clinic could,” said Powers.

And even as the players go on to their next stop, these kids, like Sam, will never forget the minutes they get with a player such as Thielbar.

Sam is expected to still be at Mayo for the week, but he cannot wait to return home to school and his friends to tell them about his time meeting a SDSU Jackrabbit and fellow South Dakotan.