The Denver Broncos Boys & Girls Club reopened on Monday after making significant renovations to the building.
DENVER — For the past 15 weeks or so, the Denver Broncos Boys & Girls Club has been largely quiet as the novel coronavirus pandemic forced the club to temporary close its doors to its hundreds of members.
The Broncos made sure that time wasn't wasted, as they donated capital to install new floors and equipment and give the walls fresh coats of paint.
But on Monday, noise returned to the club. As it reopened for the first time, children laughed as they arrived for a grand entrance with Miles, the Broncos' mascot welcoming them from the top of his van; a speaker boomed with music for a dance-off with Broncos cheerleaders; and there was simply the long-awaited sound of pitter-pattering footsteps from kids hurrying from one place to another.
Only 30 or so children were permitted in the building on Monday, and face masks were required, but it was still a thrilling start.
"I think I was more excited than Miles, and he was on his van," club director Rich Barrows said. "I want to make sure that our kids have every opportunity and the Bowlen family has guaranteed that these kids are getting world-class opportunities. …
"This is just an amazing piece of work by the Broncos, by all the contractors to get it up and have a world-class facility for our world-class children in this neighborhood. It's just amazing, and I can't wait to get in here and start giving the kids a hard time and having some fun. Because that's what it's about. When they have fun, they learn, they stay active and they stay healthy."
The reopening completes the first phase of a two-phase renovation project that was approved by Denver Broncos Charities and board president Joe Ellis in December.
"We had [an] incredibly successful fundraising year and finally had the ability to do so at the highest level that we wanted to," said Executive Director of Community Development Allie Engelken. "So instead of $5,000 here or $10,000 here, we really worked toward the full overhaul."
Funding the club has been a primary function for the Broncos' charitable arm since the club was founded in 2003. Pat Bowlen, the Broncos' late owner, championed the cause of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver and, under his leadership, the Broncos became the first pro sports team to fully fund a Boys & Girls Club chapter. Five years later, the club expanded with the Darrent Williams Memorial Teen Center, named in honor of the former Broncos cornerback who was killed in a drive-by shooting in 2007.
In her father's honor, Brittany Bowlen said she was proud to be part of the ceremonies to reopen the club after its renovations.
"It's moving and it's exciting," Bowlen said. "This is part of his heart and soul. He cared about this community so much, and he wanted to give back to youth. You see that through a number of different things that Broncos Charities has supported over the years. But I think this one meant the most to him because it was connected to Darrent Williams, and he wanted to make sure that Darrent had an incredible legacy. And he felt like this was part of that. And so, it's great to see the legacy continue, both for Darrent and for my dad."
Brittany Bowlen is now a board member for Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver.
"I think once I joined the board it resonates a lot more because I understand the scope of the work that the Boys & Girls Clubs do," Bowlen said. "I understand a number of the issues that they face. It's much more meaningful to see the numbers and then understand the impact that they have with those numbers. That's where I feel really moved."