DENVER, Colo. – In observance of the Islam's holy month of Ramadan, tackle Ryan Harris sponsored and served lunch at the Denver Rescue Mission on Saturday.
Muslims, like Harris, are encouraged to not only fast in reflection but to also increase their charity. As part of his community service this month, Harris sponsored and helped plan a lunch meal of Kansas City Barbecue sandwiches that he and a group of friends and volunteers served to those in need.
"For as long as I can remember I've always helped serve food, it's one of the things your encouraged to do – in addition to fast," said Harris. "I'm just making sure I'm part of the community - giving back to what's needed here and I'm lucky to do it."
Harris, a native of St. Paul, Minnesota and a graduate of Notre Dame, converted to Islam when he was in the eighth grade.
OT Ryan Harris returned to his original NFL team on Friday, signing with the Broncos amid offensive line competition. Go back through his career with these photos.
"For me, I was just 14 and searching, and what I was looking for I found in Islam and it just works for me," said Harris. "I found a lot of peace and self discipline and a lot of deep-rooted joy and I feel blessed that I came across that path, blessed that my parents have been receiving of it because they're not Muslim and all my friends you see here today, they aren't Muslim, so it shows you how faith can bring people together no matter what religion you are and service can also unite us all."
Giving back to the community may be easy and enjoyable for Harris, but he does find difficulty fasting during Ramadan. In addition to spiritual reflection and increased devotion and worship, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset. With training camp coming up, Harris continues to work out making it essential to replenish his body after hard workouts.
"For me, fasting has always been a challenge – me keeping my weight and things like that," said Harris. "So that's why it's always been great for me to [be charitable] in addition to do days that I do fast, and as always, I'll fast as much as I can. But, we're also not encouraged to sacrifice your work and livelihood, for me right now that's me trying to get in the best shape of my life so I can come into training camp and really contribute and being a contributive member of this hopefully championship team."
In 2015, Ramadan runs from June 18th to July 16th, right around the time the Broncos training camp will begin. During the time before camp starts, Harris says he won't be going out of town and instead will be concentrating on prepping himself for the upcoming season.
"For me as a veteran, I've done my traveling, I've gone away – things like that," said Harris. "So, for me it's all about getting in shape, staying in shape and increasing my athleticism and flexibility between now and training camp. Especially here in Colorado, using the mountains, things like that to really form a good base of strength and also endurance to be ready for training camp."