COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Colorado Springs native Adrian Adame, father of three children aged 9, 12, and 14, lost his home in the Waldo Canyon fires.
On Monday night, Adame's family along with dozens of others who lost their homes in a fire that burned more than 18,000 acres came together at iT'Z Family Fun Center in Colorado Springs. They were joined by Broncos defensive linemen Ben Garland and Justin Bannan, Miles the mascot, and Olympic athletes who all came to show their support - specifically for the kids who have been so brave through a terrifying experience.
Now that the worst is behind them and the fire is almost completely contained, Adame said it was his kids who helped him through his most difficult moments. So tonight was something they deserved.
"They've actually been a strong bone for me," Adame said. "There are times when I have my weak moments and they come up and they push me forward. They actually came up with a slogan for our family - 'Don't ever look back.' With us looking at the past, we have our backs to the future."
Meeting the Broncos players on Monday night is something his kids will remember for some time to come.
"This is going to be forever with them," Adame said. "My son plays football, so meeting the Broncos, he'll remember that for the rest of his life - seeing how big this guys were, that's pretty motivating. My daughters, meeting real life athletes, hopefully it sets some motivation for them. They play softball, so, I think it will go a long way. Seeing how much fun we can still have in a time of crisis, it's going to go a long way for them."
Robin Pickerilo is a mother of three. Her oldest is 5. Events like this help her keep the kids from realizing what has happened to their home.
"They think we're just camping out and having a good time," Pickerilo said. "This is a party for them, in essence, and that's okay."
Broncos defensive tackle Justin Bannan couldn't help but smiling along with all the families that frolicked around the fun park like nothing had happened. It was a testament to the strength of the community, he said.
"To be honest, I was taken aback by how great their spirit was, how polite everybody was," Bannan said. "Everybody just seemed to be hanging in there well. You can tell it's a tight-knit community."
Adame saw the same effect.
"Seeing how tight-knit our community has been out of this is really going to make everybody really strong," he said. "Even our family, we've gotten really close. The community has gotten really close-knit with everybody. All the material things that were lost, that's unfortunate too, but seeing how strong it's making everybody is what I'm really enjoying out of it."
The smiles, handshakes and autographs from the Broncos players helped accomplish a simple goal.
"We just wanted to have a night where they could forget about the fire in a negative way and think about it in a positive way and see all the people in the community who love them, who care about them, who support them," said Jerri Marr, forest supervisor for the Pike and San Isabel National Forests and event planner for the night. "Having everybody come out, and especially having the Denver Broncos come out, and just shake kids' hands, that's the lasting memory we want kids to have about this time in their life."
The new Adame family motto is 'Don't Look Back.' That expression will most likely ring true for most other families in their situation. But Monday night gave everyone in attendance one thing that they'll look back on for a very long time.
"It's the least I can do," Bannan said.