ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —** While safety David Bruton Jr. has found his niche in a top defense on the field, 2015 has also been the year the seven-year veteran found his niche off it with his Bruton's Books program to help children become better readers.
For his commitment to the Denver community, Bruton has been selected as the Broncos Walter Payton Man of the Year award recipient. The award, presented by Nationwide, recognizes a player for outstanding leadership on the field and in the community.
"It's very rewarding, but I don't get rewarded just by the accolades," Bruton said. "I get rewarded, personally, by the effect that it has on a kid and seeing the kids that I've been able to talk to grow as leaders and students in the classroom. It's definitely a blessing to see the hard work being put in not being taken for granted by the youth."
Safety David Bruton Jr. hosted a family fun ride to raise money for his Bruton's Books foundation to help childhood literacy.
In April, Bruton turned his love for reading into a passion he could share with those around him when he announced that his David Bruton Foundation has started the Bruton's Books program. It aims to improve reading proficiency for children from kindergarten through third grade by partnering with Colorado Reading Corps and School Partners to help schools in lower income areas in Denver offer reading supplies as well as tutoring for students.
So far, they've donated 1,000 books at four schools for summer reading, collected an additional 1,000 books for students at those four schools and delivered 350 of them. Bruton personally funded $26,000 to Mile High United Way to build literacy programs and to establish a reading oasis at the first of the four adopted schools to give kids a place to read on their own, work with a tutor or read along with an audiobook to improve reading skills.
"The goal of the foundation is to continue to fundraise, establish a reading oasis at each of the four adopted schools and foster a love for reading," Bruton said. "That's the biggest thing, and being able to be partnered with Mile High United Way has definitely opened up a lot of doors and how we are able to fundraise and interact with some of these reading core tutors that we fund and actually help fund them, as well. It's been great."
Safety David Bruton Jr. was on hand at Englewood Middle School's grant celebration to talk healthy eating and exercise before judging a smoothie competition.
Bruton also serves as the Western Dairy Fuel Up to Play 60 spokesperson, helping educate students on how to lead healthier lives. In addition to his personal charitable endeavors, Bruton also regularly participates in Broncos events, including Drive for Life, Hometown Huddle, Taste of the Broncos and events with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver.
Bruton's selection as the Broncos' Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award recipient will be recognizes during Denver's home game against Oakland on Sunday, Dec. 13, and Nationwide will make a $10,000 donation to his selected charity. His name will be submitted to the NFL for consideration as the national award winner, which is announced during Super Bowl week.
The Broncos also recognized four players as Denver Broncos Community Ambassador Award winners: defensive end Kenny Anunike, tight end Virgil Green, cornerback Chris Harris Jr. and linebacker Brandon Marshall. Cornerback Taurean Nixon was named the Broncos' Community Rookie of the Year.
The philanthropic efforts that reach into pretty much every corner of the locker room started from the top, as Bruton can attest.
"It's extremely special," Bruton said. "We have a lot of different foundations out there with a lot of guys giving their time up to go make a difference in the community. That's something that [Owner] Mr. [Pat] Bowlen instilled in this team when he took over ownership and it's still, to this day, very true for our team. We care about not just winning football games, but impacting the community."