ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos Cheerleaders' release of their 2013 swimsuit calendar brought together fans, current and former players and the cheerleaders themselves for a sunny Saturday afternoon spent racing go-karts and raising money for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver.
Teresa Shear, Director of Cheerleaders and Game Day Entertainment, said the event has improved since it started out as little more than an autograph session.
"We used to do a calendar-release party where it was just a calendar autograph signing session for the cheerleaders and the fans," Shear said. "It was a pretty popular event. And then we decided to really tie it into a great charity."
The specific aim of Saturday's event was to raise money that will establish a dance program for The Boys & Girls Clubs. Since 2009, the event has raised $65,000 for at-risk youth organizations, and Shear said she hopes this year's event will raise another $30,000. Patricia, a cheerleader, said that finally getting to see the calendar made a long week in Cancun, Mexico well worth all the time and effort.
"It feels good," Patricia smiled. "We go through a lot to get ready for calendar. We have to take a whole week off from our real lives -- most of us work 40 hours a week. We have to work out, we have to eat right, we have to do so much preparation. So seeing the final product of what we've worked so hard for the past couple months, it's a relief off the shoulders but also very exciting."
In addition to raising money for a good cause, Saturday afternoon also gave fans an opportunity to chat with the cheerleaders and get to know them on a personal level.
"We partnered with the track because it gives the cheerleaders an opportunity to be seen in a different light," Shear said. "A more sporty side of them, a more fun, casual side than them just signing autographs for the fans. It gives them an opportunity to interact, have some fun, compete and just have a great time and raise some good money for charity."
While the purpose of the event is focused on raising money for charity, that doesn't mean the cheerleaders take racing 60 mile-per-hour go-karts lightly.
"The first year that I ever did this, I was slow as molasses out there," said Sam, a cheerleader. "I didn't even push myself fast enough to spin out the first year. So now that I'm in my third year and I've had quite a few practices under my belt, I'm definitely pushing the envelope. I'm definitely racing a lot faster, and I have spun out quite a few times just because I take the turns a little too fast."
Joining the cheerleaders at Saturday's event were several current and former players, including guard Zane Beadles and quarterback Adam Weber. Also in attendance were former Broncos offensive lineman Mark Schlereth and former tight end Jeb Putzier. Patricia, who has prior experience teaching dance to underprivileged youth, said the event's cause is particularly meaningful to her.
"It's so rewarding that we can give back to these programs," Patricia said. "I myself, when I was going to Colorado State, taught dance classes at an at-risk youth center up there. Just the fact that we have the opportunity to give something to these kids who never get that chance, it's just so fulfilling, so rewarding, especially because I've had experience with these kids before."