The Broncos welcomed 90 Denver Boys & Girls Club members to the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse for a holiday party where they got to sing karaoke, decorate cookies, and even received a visit from Santa! (Photos by Caroline Deisley)
As the familiar tune of 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' rang throughout the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse Monday night, the Broncos kicked off the week before Christmas with their first annual Denver Boys & Girls Club holiday party.
Ninety kids from the local clubs spent a couple hours Monday night singing karaoke, decorating cookies and cards and playing a little football with the eight Broncos in attendance, including newcomer running back Justin Forsett, who just signed with the Broncos two weeks ago.
"This is what it's all about: to be out here and put a smile on their faces," Forsett said. "Being able to interact and communicate with these kids, go play football with them is something I'll remember for a long time, and I'm sure they will too."
For the kids, it was an opportunity to get into the Christmas spirit with some of their favorite Broncos, but for the players it was another opportunity for them to celebrate the holidays since they play Christmas night in Kansas City.
"Being with these kids can kind of — I mean nothing can take place of being with family — but being with these kids can set that standard. It reminds you of your little brothers and little cousins that you have back home that are going to miss you," rookie safety Will Parks said. "They'll help you out as far as all that joy and all that happiness that they bring when you come home. It's definitely what they resemble."
Since Parks arrived in Denver, he's devoted countless hours to these kids at the different Boys & Girls clubs, even establishing relationships with a few of them. Earlier this December, he gifted some of the kids shoes and continues to check in on them whenever he has the chance, like on Monday night. At the holiday party, he asked one of the kids about his performance in school recently and apologized to another for not being able to make a football game this season before asking how the season went.
"Where I come from, we didn't have opportunities like this. I think the biggest thing about this is that Denver offers a general aspect of what it's all about being a Bronco," Parks said. "It's more than just playing football, it's about giving back to kids and making them smile, letting them know that you care about them. I was just telling them, 'Whatever I can do to help y'all, I'm here.'"
After an hour of fun and games, the energy in the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse shifted when the most popular guy this time of year made a guest appearance. DeMarcus Ware donned his finest Santa suit, complete with boots and a full beard, surprised the kids and handed out coal to all of his teammates.
Earlier Monday afternoon, Ware was named the recipient of the Darrent Williams Good Guy Award by local media. Williams, who died tragically 10 years ago, was a staple in the Denver community, especially at the different Boys & Girls clubs. Because of his involvement with the club, they created the Darrent Williams Memorial Teen Center at the Broncos Boys & Girls Club in his honor.
"It's really big — especially a guy like Darrent, what he meant to this team in just a short period of time, how many people he touched," Ware said of receiving the award and giving back to one of Williams' favorite causes. "It's about being the same guy throughout all situations … so no matter what the situation is, you're having the same life if it's a win or a loss. It's also being able to give back in the community and being you. He was a big staple here in this community and on this team."
The holiday party wouldn't have been complete without presents, of course, so the night ended with every kid in attendance receiving a brand new bike courtesy of Head Coach Gary Kubiak and the Broncos.
It was quite the sight to see linebacker Dekoda Watson and offensive lineman Max Garcia reliving their childhood as they rode these youth bikes to give to all 90 kids from the different clubs.
"It would've been awesome," Watson said. "What kid doesn't want a bike? I want a bike right now."
"It would be freaking awesome. I would be going home and showing off my bike to all my friends like, 'Look at what I got from the Broncos!'" Garcia added. "I feel like it's a really special experience for them. I know they're going to be really appreciative of it all."
From a guest appearance by 'DeMarcus Claus' to seeing the 90 kids' eyes light up when they got to take home a bike of their very own, the Broncos' first annual Boys & Girls holiday party was a complete success and the perfect way to kick off the Christmas week festivities.