If you had told me in 2012, when I started the Chris Harris Jr. Foundation that I would end up as an All-Pro and the Broncos’ Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee, I would’ve said it’s something to work for. I could’ve seen it happening, though, because I put in the real time out there — both on the field and in the community.
The night the Broncos told me I was their nominee, my wife, Leah, was like, “Oh, we’ve got to go out to eat tonight.” And I was like, “Shoot, let’s go.” When we were walking into Perry’s Steakhouse, there was a big table, but there wasn’t anybody there. I was like, “What’s going on here? Don’t we want a table for two?” And that’s when the Broncos’ community development team surprised me.
I didn’t have any idea it was coming. They got me.
I was definitely happy. I’ve put in a lot of work out here in the community, so it was a huge accomplishment to be able to be recognized for things that we do with our time and the ways we’re able to give back.
My wife was happy, and it’s definitely an award for her, too, for everything that she does. It’s for all the ideas and things that she comes up with and how she impacts the kids, too.
I try to involve my own kids even now in the foundation. I have a lot of events, and I bring them along so that they can see we’re giving back. Hopefully when I’m done and retired and they ask me about this award, they’ll know it’s from giving and making an impact in the community. My oldest daughter, Aria, is already getting to that age. She’s smart, and as she gets older, she’s going to be involved. Hopefully my daughters can make an impact too.
It really hit me that I was making an impact when I found out people were moving to my community just because I was holding camps there. That was crazy. I didn’t expect tons of families to do that.
I also realize it when I see the kids’ faces at the coat drive I host. They’re excited to choose what cold gear they can wear, and seeing that impact is awesome. It’s the same when I work with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado or the Salvation Army. Being able to bless them with Christmas presents and a shopping experience makes you feel fulfilled.
I’ve just seen the other guys before me get this award. It’s huge to join them. I’ve seen Virgil Green be nominated. “Virg” is very active in the community. Peyton has won the national award before — and you want to be in that type of company in life. It’s something where I’ve put in the same work as them, and I want to be in the same category as them where I can make an impact as them. It’s great to join them.
The way things are going this year, you really don’t expect too many awards. So I’m happy I got something to keep me going this year.
Moving forward, this will just help me give more to the kids and be able to impact more lives and more families. There’s still a lot more we can do out here, so coming up with new ideas and brainstorming will be important. We’ve got to continue to find ways to help the kids have fun and ways to make their lives easier.