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'They just inspire me': Denver Broncos players, staff make impact off the field at Denver Boys & Girls Club

Broncos named ESPN's Humanitarian Team of the Year for their work in the community
Justin Simmons Boys & Girls Club photo
Posted at 9:12 PM, Jul 20, 2022

DENVER — Highlights of the Denver Broncos usually show their spectacular plays on the field, but their biggest impact is arguably the work they do off of it.

The organization was named this year's ESPN Humanitarian Team of the Year for their dedication to the community.

Each year, the award is given to a major sports franchise that exemplifies how teamwork can significantly impact a community or cause. In Montbello, the Broncos' impact is apparent at the Boys & Girls Club.

"We've been partners with the Broncos for 20 years," said Erin Porteous, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver. "As you can imagine, we've got a lot of memories with them."

Children at the club have experienced a myriad of experiences, from outings with the team to trips to the Super Bowl. But nothing compares to the relationship Broncos players and staff have developed with the kids.

"It's special because for many of the kids we serve, they may not have a long list of positive adult role models in their lives. So they come to the clubs to find that safety and stability and those great relationships," Porteious said.

'They just inspire me': Denver Broncos players, staff make impact off the field at Denver Boys & Girls Club

Naja'Ray West attests to those relationships.

"I've met Peyton Manning, I've met John Elway, I've met Justin Simmons, I've met Kenny, I've met Teddy Bridgewater. I've met PJ, I've met Courtland Sutton," she said.

The list goes on, but one of West's favorite Broncos is Justin Simmons.

"It just made me think, like, "Wow, this guy actually cares about all the kids at the club,"" she said. "He's just like a big brother to me and a lot of the other kids at the Boys & Girls Club."

Beyond personal relationships, the Broncos cover every cost of the club, including memberships. This allows families to focus on bigger expenses, while kids focus on what really matters.

"They just inspire me to keep going," West said. "They've taught me that it's important to respect your community."

Now, West works at the club, where she's now a role model. She says the Broncos have shown her invaluable leadership qualities.

"I look at people like the Bronco players that come through the Boys & Girls Club, and I say, "Oh, I may want to be like them in different ways,"" she said.

While she's probably met more players than anyone else at the club, West is inviting the newest one to visit.

"Where are you at Russell? You gotta come to the club. Meet all the kids at the club," she said.

This year, Broncos players and staff volunteered more than 900 hours through 745 different engagements, according to the organization. They are also the only professional sports team to completely underwrite its own branch of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.