Whether it's shopping with kids for Christmas presents they'd never get to have, helping families pay bills so they can put a little more toward a great holiday for their kids or rewarding others for the good they do in the local community, Broncos players are spreading a lot of good cheer this holiday season. Just like they do every year.
Though we are used to it, it's not this way in every NFL community. Thanks to the vision of Pat Bowlen and the buy-in from the entire Broncos organization, many players participate in team community activities every week but also get involved on their own throughout the entire year to make life just a little bit sweeter for the community that has adopted them as players.
"It's extremely special. We have a lot of different foundations out there with a lot of guys giving their time up to go make a difference in the community," safety David Bruton Jr. said about the Broncos efforts. "That's something that Mr. Bowlen instilled in this team when he took over ownership and it's still, to this day, very true for our team. We care about not just winning football games, but impacting the community."
Bruton was recently named the Broncos' selection for the NFL's prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, which honors a player for superb support on and off the field. Yesterday he was awarded a $10,000 check from Nationwide insurance as a thank you for all Bruton has done in the community.
"I'm absolutely still in awe and still in complete shock that such a young program is able to make a difference so quickly because we have a lot of guys with different foundations on the team that have been doing it for years," Bruton said of the donation and his nomination. "Just to be considered as a Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee, again, it's a blessing."
Bruton, who started Bruton's Books last spring to support literacy among disadvantaged youth, has been a tireless supporter in the Denver area - whether it is visiting schools, showing kids the benefits of being physically fit or just supporting his teammates' various efforts in the community.
Darian Stewart, a free safety the Broncos picked up in free agency this year, just launched his Utility Assistance Program through his foundation, Stewart's Standouts, giving $250 to eight different families in Denver as well as his hometown Huntsville, Ala.
Safety and return specialist Omar Bolden recently kicked off his Positive Living campaign, and he, Bruton and running back Juwan Thompson teamed up to sponsor a shopping spree for kids in the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Denver.
Malik Jackson has been continuing his new work with children of military families through his Lucky 7 campaign with Helping Hands for Freedom.
It is officially Colorado giving day. If you care about military families, please donate $7 @ https://t.co/dtIyN1Q0Nr— Malik Barron Jackson (@TheMalikJackson) December 8, 2015
Earlier this month, Von Miller raised more than $12,000 via a crowdfunding effort that will give 617 kids a free eye exam and new glasses.
T.J. Ward and his foundation have been sponsoring his "Boss-of-the-Month" campaign to reward people who are doing great things in their own communities. His first "Boss" was 5-year-old Miles Taylor who is fighting a fatal but rare disease and trying to help other kids fight it too.
November's "Boss" is also named T.J. Ward, and he organizes sending holiday cards to troops.
Ward and Nuggets' Kenneth Faried also teamed up last night for a second year to take 30 kids on a Christmas shopping spree at a local Target. Each child received $100 to buy gifts.
And, of course, so many players participate in a myriad of activities sponsored by the team to "bring good will" to everyone during the holidays and throughout the year.
Thank you, Denver Broncos!
*In case you'd like to get involved/contribute to some of these efforts, here are a few of the player's various foundations: