ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Inside linebacker Alex Singleton leads the Broncos with 90 tackles, but he is not the only accomplished athlete in his family.
The eldest of the Singleton siblings, Ashley has been a Special Olympics athlete for more than 20 years. She was born with Down syndrome, and she participated in her first Special Olympics event at just two and a half years old. The organization has fueled Ashley's passion for sports and given her lifelong friendships, and more than two decades and numerous gold medals later, she continues to compete in swimming and bowling for Special Olympics Southern California.
Because of his sister's involvement with Special Olympics, Singleton was introduced to the organization at a young age and has been a dedicated supporter since his adolescence.
"Obviously she's my big sister, and she's been at Special Olympics longer than I can literally remember," Singleton said. "So, it's just been part of my life. I volunteered until I was old enough to work, and it's actually one of my only other jobs besides football — working with organizations that worked with Special Olympics. It means everything to me. I get to go and see athletes with intellectual disabilities and see the biggest smiles and the biggest competitions. It just puts everything into perspective for me, and it's the greatest thing in the world. I love it. I tell everybody to just give it one try, because then you'll be a volunteer for life.
"It's the reason I play with a smile, just because I know what all those athletes would do to be playing professional sports, because they play their sports like they're professional sports, and they deserve it all. That's why I do it."
Singleton's professional football journey has taken him to several locations, and at each stop, the inside linebacker has supported Special Olympics. While playing for the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League, he traveled to the Yukon to support Special Olympics Yukon's Winter Games — enduring temperatures as low as minus-40 degrees Fahrenheit as he volunteered at the event. He then played for the Philadelphia Eagles from 2019-21, raising more than $11,000 for Special Olympics Pennsylvania during the 2020 season through his Tackling Inclusion initiative.
And, through it all, he has made the time to support Ashley and Special Olympics Southern California.
"With my sister, I've gone to 10, 15 years of Summer Games in Southern California, and then obviously just supporting all the way down to going to soccer practices, football practices, basketball practices," Singleton said. "I've seen flag football become a sport [in Special Olympics]. And to be part of that and see that grow has been huge. And then obviously going to all my sister's events and cheering for her and cheering for all her friends that are like family to me. It's almost an every-weekend thing in our house, in some capacity."
Now as a member of the Broncos, Singleton has already begun to work with Special Olympics Colorado and assist with the organization's local initiatives, such as the "Pins for a Purpose" event on Nov. 15, where he and kicker Brandon McManus joined Special Olympics athletes for a night of bowling and fun.
He is also continuing his Tackling Inclusion fundraiser as a Bronco, and fans and supporters can pledge to donate to Special Olympics Colorado for each tackle Singleton makes this season.
"Alex Singleton has been a longtime supporter of Special Olympics and Special Olympics Colorado," wrote Megan Scremin, president and CEO of Special Olympics Colorado, in a statement to DenverBroncos.com. "His success on the football field is making countless opportunities possible for the more than 16,000 athletes that we serve. Special Olympics Colorado is grateful to Alex for his advocacy, generosity and friendship."
By supporting Special Olympics Colorado, Singleton is helping to make sports more accessible for members of the community. As a professional athlete, he understands the numerous benefits of playing sports — and as the brother of a Special Olympics athlete, he has seen firsthand how the organization can change lives.
"People with intellectual disabilities, giving them the opportunity to play sports [is important]," Singleton said. "I think sports brings everybody together, and a community that is overlooked sometimes, it gives them a place to be themselves, to show who they are, show their energy, show their excitement, show their joy for sports. Because everyone loves sports, and it's so amazing that Special Olympics as a whole can do that, but [in] places like Colorado, it's been amazing. The outreach I've had being around them here in the short time [I've been here], it's a really well-ran [organization], Special Olympics Colorado."
For the 2022 NFL My Cause My Cleats initiative, Singleton has chosen to wear customized cleats to bring attention to Special Olympics and honor the impact that the organization has made on his family.
"It's the coolest thing to be able to represent Special Olympics and just give them more face," Singleton said. "On the biggest stage in my life, playing football, and just having them see that — to me, it's representing the athletes. To have them know that they're thought about and represented out there is the biggest thing to me."
Flip through photos of dozens of Broncos players' and staff members' custom cleats representing causes close to their hearts for the 2022 My Cause My Cleats campaign.