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'Anything We Can Do to Help'

Posted Jul 23, 2012

On Monday, seven Broncos visited Swedish Medical Center to meet with more victims of the Aurora shootings.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Colorado has experienced more than its share of adversity in the past few months, whether it was the wildfires that ravaged the state or the tragic shootings that took place just last Thursday in Aurora.

That's why the Broncos have made sure to do anything they can -- no matter how small -- to help raise spirits in their community.

"Obviously the Broncos are a big part of the community here in Denver," Elvis Dumervil said. "People love the Broncos, and we try to reciprocate that same feeling by giving back."

On Monday, seven players did that by visiting victims of the Aurora shooting at Swedish Medical Center.

Dumervil, Ben Garland, Chris Gronkowski, Chris Kuper, Jacob Tamme, Demaryius Thomas and Wesley Woodyard met with hospital staff that was working when victims were brought in as well as two of the victims that are still in the hospital.

The first room the seven players -- and Miles the Mascot -- entered belonged to Adon Avila. While shielding his wife, he took a high-velocity round to his shin, which damaged his soft tissue, bone and tendons.

His wife, Jennifer, was in the room as well. She had come to the hospital to check on her husband when the doctors noticed she had shrapnel in the back of her head.

Kuper said he noticed that both Adon and Jennifer brightened a little when they received so many visitors all at once.

"Hopefully it changes how they feel -- maybe for a moment, maybe for the day," Kuper said. "Just anything we can do to help."

The next room was that of Christina Blache, who served in the Air Force. She took a bullet to her leg, but the bullet cleared all the way through and went into the knee on her other leg. Blache talked with the players, posing for a few pictures before accepting an autographed Broncos hat.

While Jennifer was already up and walking when the Broncos arrived, both Adon and Blache have more surgeries ahead of them.

But that didn't seem to affect their demeanors.

"They're strong," Dumervil said. "It's a good sign. Nobody had their head down. They're keeping the fight. That's encouraging. The positive energy, the vibe was great."

Woodyard agreed, as the first thing he noticed about the victims was their toughness.

"One thing about it is that even though I don't know them, it seems like their characteristics and their personalities didn't change," he said. "They were really upbeat and happy to see us. Just to see that they're alive and well is a good thing."

Garland, Kuper and Tamme visited the Aurora Medical Center on Sunday and saw how uplifting it could be to visit the victims and hear their stories. So all three didn't hesitate to visit two more victims on Monday.

For the second consecutive day, seven Broncos visited with victims of the shooting. Tamme said it shows just how much of a premium the Broncos put on helping out in the community.

"It's important to me and it's important to all these guys," Tamme said. "It's been a neat couple days in the middle of a very tragic situation."