The Broncos hosted their inaugural Inspire Change Summit on Tuesday to celebrate the work of the team's Inspire Change partners. Representatives from several nonprofit organizations were in attendance, as well as multiple Broncos players — some of whom actively work with the organizations, and others who were looking to learn about what they do and get involved.
During the event, the attendees had the opportunity to hear the origin of the team's We Stand For campaign and witness the presentation of the inaugural Inspire Change Changemaker Award to the Broncos' two nominees, Nashara Ellerbee and Naja'Ray West.
Inspire Change showcases how players, owners and executives across the league collaborate to create positive change. Through this initiative, the NFL supports player-led efforts to impact their local communities. Broncos President Damani Leech, who worked for the NFL league office before joining the Broncos, had a firsthand look at how the initiative started and is now witnessing its effects in the Denver community.
"Before I was with the Denver Broncos four months ago, I was at the NFL league office for eight years, and I was there in 2017 during a period of great social unrest," Leech said during the summit. "A period where the NFL players across the league were challenging owners and the league office to really do more — to do more beyond the games, to do more outside the white lines. That led to the formation of a small group of players and owners who came together and created what has become this Inspire Change platform in 2018.
"Fast forward to now, and I've left the league office, the ivory tower, and I'm here on the ground, in this community, and I get a chance to see it firsthand. I see what our players do day in and day out on a weekly basis, obviously outside the season, but definitely in the season when they've got a lot going on — and what little time they do have, they take to serve the community in a lot of different ways."
During the summit, Broncos players and staff shared their appreciation for what nonprofits such as RISE, The Casey Fund, Café Momentum and others are doing to help their local communities. Kicker Brandon McManus, whose foundation, Project McManus, partners with many local organizations, discussed the impact that Inspire Change can continue to have in Colorado and across the nation.
"Every day, all of you choose to lend a helping hand," McManus said. "Every day, all of you choose to make a difference in others' lives. Every day, all of you choose to inspire change in our communities. I ask us all here today to continue to identify meaningful ways to strengthen our local communities and our greater society."
Sunday's game against the Cardinals will be the Broncos' annual Inspire Change game, where the team will honor the Changemaker nominees and display Inspire Change messaging around the stadium.
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On Tuesday, defensive tackle D.J. Jones and his father, Dave Jones, announced a $10,000 gift to Tanglewood Middle School in Greenville County, South Carolina. The D.J. Jones Peace Award will provide a monetary gift to the school as well as "recognize students who exhibit strong leadership, relational skills and excellence in academics" with an annual award to two students for each of the next 10 years.
"On behalf of the district, I want to extend our appreciation to the D.J. Jones Foundation for your generosity, not just financially, but for your willingness to be involved at Tanglewood Middle School," said Dr. Burke Royster, superintendent of Greenville County Schools. "Whatever we do, we can do better when we have the involvement of our community — parents, community members and others like Mr. Jones and his son — who are committed to giving their time and resources for the betterment of our students."