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Donating the Holidays

Posted Dec 13, 2010

Wesley Woodyard and his 16Ways Foundation hosted a holiday toy drive Monday night, and several Broncos came to show their support.

DENVER -- There wasn't much room under the Christmas tree halfway through Wesley Woodyard's 16Ways Foundation's first annual holiday toy drive.

As more and more guests arrived, each one brought a present to place under the tree. There were dolls, cars, stuffed animals, board games, footballs, colored pencils, dinosaurs, Nerf guns and baseball bats, all waiting to be donated to The Tennyson Center, Samaritan Homeless Shelter, Owen Boys & Girls Club and Wilfley Boys & Girls Club.

The collection of unwrapped gifts grew bigger and bigger as Monday night's event at the Downtown Aquarium progressed, and the host couldn't wait for the gifts to be handed out at Christmas.

"I'm really excited," Woodyard said. "It's something I've been wanting to do for a long time but just haven't had the means or the time to do it. Now I feel like I'm in a position where I can help all the time whenever I need to in the community."

Guests mingled with Woodyard and his teammates, including Champ Bailey, Ryan Clady, Britt Davis, Eddie Royal, Demaryius Thomas and D.J. Williams, and looked over a variety of silent auction items throughout the evening.

Up for bidding were items ranging from game-worn shoes autographed by Bailey and Williams to jerseys and footballs autographed by Brian Dawkins, Knowshon Moreno, Kyle Orton, Tim Tebow and Woodyard, to a night on the town, including a dinner a Maggianos, free bowling at Lucky Strike and a stay at the Marriott TownePlace Suites.

One hundred percent of the proceeds from the event went to Woodyard's 16Ways Foundation, which he started earlier this year.

"I got the 16 from my college and high school number," Woodyard explained. "It's just representing the struggle and understanding where you come from. It's just my organization based around helping people. A mentor program -- helping people get to the next level in their lives."

The non-profit organization's primary focus is working with at-risk youth between the ages of 8 and 18. The foundation plans to work on a national level to develop and implement workshops, seminars, camps and other activities designed to build self-esteem, promote responsibility for one's own actions and help overcome obstacles.

It also stresses the importance of academics, knowledge of career options and professional development, community involvement and mental and physical fitness.

Some of Woodyard's foundation's future events include Ballin' with a Bronco -- a kids bowling night with Woodyard and fellow Broncos -- a 16Ways Community Service Awards ceremony recognizing a student athlete from each local high school in Woodyard's hometown of Lagrange, Ga., an empowerment seminar and the linebacker's Chopping "Wood" Free Football Camp.

"It's not about us, it is about them -- our youth, our future!" is the foundation's vision, a motto that was echoed throughout Monday's toy drive.

Woodyard's teammates were more than happy to give their time to the cause.

"It's part of his personality -- that's just the way he is," Bailey said of Woodyard's devotion to the community. "Anything he asks me to do, I'm definitely going to try to do it."

The evening was also a celebration for Woodyard, named the Broncos' Walter Payton Man of the Year Award recipient for his leadership on and off the field and contributions in the community.

The linebacker said he was honored by the selection, and appreciative of his teammates' support.

"It means a lot," Woodyard said. "Especially around this time of the year, this is the time of year when it's all about giving and helping others. I think my teammates realize it and recognize it. It means a lot for me that they're willing to give to my cause."