Ben Garland was named the Denver Broncos' Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award recipient for his outstanding leadership both on the field and in the community a few weeks ago.
Today Broncos learned that Garland is one of the 10 finalists for the Salute to Service Award presented by USAA (listed alphabetically)
Jared Allen, Chicago Bears
Tom Bakken, Green Bay Packers (Asst. Equipment Manager)
Jeff Fisher, St. Louis Rams
Ben Garland, Denver Broncos
Nick Hardwick, San Diego Chargers
Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Pat McAfee, Indianapolis Colts
Roy Miller, Jacksonville Jaguars
Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh Steelers
Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers
The two finalists will be announced in January, and the winner will be recognized at the "4th Annual NFL Honors" awards show in Arizona on NBC on Saturday, Jan. 31, the night before Super Bowl XLIX.
Garland - who was notified in Thursday morning's team meeting - will be recognized during Denver's home game against Buffalo on Sunday, and the Broncos will make a $10,000 donation to his selected charity. His name will be submitted to the NFL for consideration as the national award winner, which is announced during Super Bowl week.
"He's smart, extremely tough and trained by the best leaders on the planet - our U.S. Military," John Fox said of Garland recently.
I can't believe I won that award! So many guys on the team do so much for our community. I can't stop smiling. #blessed— Ben Garland (@BenGarland63) December 4, 2014
The NFL's winner will receive a $50,000 donation to the organization of his choice courtesy of the NFL Foundation and Nationwide ($25,000 from each). Two finalists will be announced this month and will receive $5,000 donations in their names while the other 29 nominees will receive $1,000 donations to their selected charities.
Former Broncos quarterback - and current GM - John Elway won the national award in 1992, the only Broncos player to do so. The award was first given in 1970 and renamed after the Chicago Bears' Pro Football Hall of Fame running back in 1999.
Garland, who came to the Broncos in 2010 as a defensive lineman and has converted to the O-line, has played his first NFL games this season. And he couldn't be more excited about it.
I can't stop smiling. I got to play in a game, we beat the raiders and it was military appreciation day. #blessed— Ben Garland (@BenGarland63) November 10, 2014
Off the field, Garland is just as enthusiastic to make a difference.
When he's not defending quarterback Peyton Manning, the former Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, spends his time helping the community and defending his country by participating in the Colorado National Guard.
He co-founded and serves as the executive director of the SoDE Solution, a nonprofit organization with the mission of creating sustainable and changing economic situations to help end sex trafficking.
One current project he is spearheading through the organization is finding ways to provide basic needs such as power, clean water and food through sustainable methods to a Cambodian orphanage, which has been in existence for 15 years and survived on minimal resources. SoDE Solution's ultimate goal is to make the orphanage a place of transformation and self-sustainability.
In addition to his own charitable efforts, Garland is a regular participant in team community events along with many of his teammates. He volunteers his time for Drive for Life, Hometown Huddle, events with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver and the Denver Broncos Holiday Party for the Denver Rescue Mission.
Had a blast on Broncos Christmas shopping spree with the Boys and Girls Club. Each kid got 150$ to spend. pic.twitter.com/EaBp2lTW7c— Ben Garland (@BenGarland63) November 26, 2014
The Colorado native, who joined the Broncos as a college free agent from the Air Force Academy in 2010, has done extensive work with the club's high school football platform, making numerous visits to football practices as part of the Broncos High School Game of the Week series. He also participated in the inaugural Mom's Football Safety Clinic in August and expanded his personal work with Make-A-Wish Colorado this season to include hosting Broncos Make-A-Wish visits.
Garland joins several big-name Broncos who were previous nominees for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award, including linebacker Wesley Woodyard (2010-11, ‘13), guard Zane Beadles (2012), cornerback Champ Bailey (2008-09), cornerback Domonique Foxworth (2007), wide receiver Rod Smith (2004, '06), safety John Lynch (2005), linebacker Ian Gold (2003) and wide receiver Ed McCaffrey (2002).
The Broncos also recognized four players as Denver Broncos Community Champion Award winners: safety David Bruton, tight end Virgil Green, linebacker Steven Johnson and defensive end DeMarcus Ware.
Linebacker Corey Nelson was named the Broncos' inaugural Community Rookie of the Year for his immediate contributions to the community in his first NFL season.