Von Miller and his teammates hosted a benefit dinner and auction to help his Von's Vision foundation, providing eyewear and eye examinations for Denver youth.
DENVER —**You need not look further back than Sunday to see how difficult it is for Von Miller to function without his vision. During the game, he missed a chunk of time after losing a contact, being passed through precautionary concussion protocol and then having to get help putting in a new contact to restore his eyesight. Miller is truly only at full strength when he has clear vision.
The man is often clad in stylish frames when he's out and about, and he rarely goes more than five minutes without his glasses, he said. Without his eyewear, he can't even drive. He's just not himself without them.
And the same goes for everyone who needs them, he said before his Celebrity Steak Out event to raise money for Von's Vision, Miller's foundation to give eyewear or contacts to children in low-income situations.
Miller and more than 30 of his Broncos teammates put on a different uniform Monday night, donning white aprons and hoisting hors d'oeuvres on trays to offer to guests in attendance at Ocean Prime in downtown Denver.
"It's an amazing setup we've got here," Miller said, gesturing toward the tables equipped with autographed Broncos gear up for auction and other items to be bid on to help Von's Vision. "We're trying to help 5,000 kids tonight. Every $20 will get one kid a pair of glasses."
Miller said Von's Vision aims at an issue that flies a bit under the radar in helping kids grow their confidence and their grades with better ability to perform in class.
"I mean, I've been wearing glasses all my life. I was wearing glasses when it wasn't cool and when I didn't have the opportunity or the funds to get a cool pair of frames, so my whole purpose is to give back to the community and create that cool opportunity for kids to show them that it's cool to wear glasses," he said. "Do what you've got to do to get good grades in class. You'd be amazed at how many kids just need glasses or contacts just to excel in class."
Miller enlisted the help of his friends and teammates in giving fans the opportunity to donate to a good cause that flies a bit under the radar, and the opportunity to be served shrimp with cocktail sauce or sliders by NFL players. Following an initial reception that gave guests the chance to interact players they see on the field on Sundays, the restaurant sat the dining guests and the players served them a three-course dinner. Patrons also were able to participate in silent and live auctions on Broncos memorabilia and other gifts to help raise money for Von's Vision.
Though it was a fun event, Miller was more excited about the impact it would have on the kids who would receive better sight as a result. He could identify with the feeling they would have, because he knew that feeling well when he was younger, and he knew the feeling when he finally got his first pair.
"I would fall asleep in them and bend them up and my mom would straighten them back up. They wouldn't be perfectly straight, they would just have to work. And my whole goal is now to give those kids who have the same struggle a new pair of glasses, a new frame, a new outlook," Miller said.
"If you aren't able to see, it's life-changing when you get a pair of glasses or contacts, especially if you get a pair of glasses that you love wearing," he added. "If you can give that to a 6- or 7- or 8-year-old, 10-year-old, any young kid with a pair of cool frames, it totally changes their whole image, especially at school. [...] Your self-esteem—that's my whole goal, to show all those kids it's cool to wear glasses, it's cool to be you."