ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- While the Broncos are hard at work during training camp, doing what it takes to be champions on the field, the players will sport a patch that demonstrates the organization's desire to be champions in the community.
For the first time in 51 years, the team's practice jerseys feature a special patch for HealthONE's Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children at Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center. The NFL approved the use of practice jersey patches in March of 2009, but this will be the first training camp the Broncos do so.
"We waited a year until we knew we had the right partner," Broncos Chief Operating Officer Joe Ellis said.
The Broncos and HealthONE have been partners for nearly 25 years. The largest healthcare system in the metro Denver area, HealthONE includes 3,000 affiliated physicians and a network of hospitals and medical centers along with AIRLIFE, which provides critical care air and ground transportation for an eight-state region.
The Broncos have been supporting HealthONE for years, so the healthcare partner was ecstatic to continue the relationship through the jersey patch.
"The Broncos, aside from standing for excellence in sports, are so involved in the community in so many different ways," said Jeffrey Dorsey, CEO of HealthONE. "It really comes right to the point of why we have wanted to be in relationships with them over the past number of years."
"I can't tell you how many hours and how many venues that Broncos players show up, take the time and give back to the community and especially to the families that are going through a very, very tough time," Dorsey continued. "We work together to try to get that done as often as we can. There's never a no. It's just always, 'Sure, where do you need me?'"
In addition to continued visits to HealthONE patients and employees by players, cheerleaders and Miles the Mascot, the Broncos have committed to a charitable drive alongside the patch program.
The team is issuing a challenge for fans to show up to training camp. For every visiting fan, the team will donate $1 to the Rocky Mountain Children's Health Foundation.
The Foundation directly helps families who need assistance while their children are hospitalized or undergoing treatment across the Rocky Mountain region and assists nurses, physicians and staff in education to improve medical care for children.
"All of the money will go to help the families and sick children directly," said Pat Peterson, Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Children's Health Foundation. "None of the money will go toward bricks and mortar or building hospital wings. The money is going to go to the families who actually need it."
During the 2009 training camp, the players donned 50th Anniversary patches on their practice jerseys. When the team decided to move forward with a patch for this season, the organization had to make sure it chose the right partner. In HealthONE, Ellis said the Broncos found just that.
"We wanted to do something that has meaning and purpose on the community level," Ellis said. "Our community mission deals with health, youth and hunger, and this fit two of those. This is a great program, a great hospital and a great partner. The match was perfect."