Denver Broncos in Aspen: Kids, fans hang out with players, crew
Playing alongside a big guy in an orange Broncos uniform Saturday morning was all most of the kids will remember. The players names they didn’t know, and it didn’t matter.
As part of the Denver Broncos’ community outreach, nearly 100 kids from the Aspen Youth Center got to hang out with a couple of players and cheerleaders at the Aspen High football field. Afterward, many of the campers still didn’t know who Kyle Peko and Vontarrius Dora were, but they will remember the high-fives, encouragement and smiles for years.
“My favorite part was getting to tackle the dummies and then dancing with the cheerleaders,” said 12-year-old Tyler Sieders of Aspen. “And asking one of the Broncos guys if I was their favorite and he said yes.”
Those guys are still kids and have dreams too. Both were undrafted free agents in 2016 and spent last season as rookies on the Broncos’ practice squad; they were guys who lined up against the first-team players to give them practice.
“Make the active squad from the very beginning of the season,” said Dora, who played at Louisana Tech. “That’s what we want.”
The weekend trip to Aspen and Steamboat Springs was sandwiched between offseason drill; sessions that are critical for young players like Peko and Dora.
“We are still pushing toward that ultimate goal,” said Peko, who played at Oregon State.
They were out Saturday encouraging the kids at different stations made up of fumble drills, diving catches and busting through tackling dummies.
Calvin Delaney, 10, liked getting a high-five from “that one guy.”
“He was really cool because he’s athletic and he’s helping the kids get out and be active and not sit on the couch playing video games,” said the Aspen grade-schooler.
The caravan, which stopped in Steamboat Springs on Friday, was scheduled to come in May but a late-season snowstorm along the Front Range postponed the events in the mountains. The 11-stop trip around the state during the offseason was set up by the nonprofit El Pomar Foundation to promote health and wellness among children.
With more locals and visitors in Aspen on Saturday than would have been in May because of the offseason, the energy carried over to the base of the Silver Queen Gondola area as the Broncos crew meet with fans in the afternoon.
“It’s crazy being on the other side of the ball and being that guy the little kids want to meet — guys from professional teams,” said Peko, a 23-year-old, 305-pound defensive lineman. “It’s cool to experience it.”
Dora, 24, went to more intensive camps as a player in high school, but the linebacker didn’t get to meet high-level players. He grew up in West Point, Mississippi, a small town near the Alabama border, and was a little distracted by his surroundings Saturday.
“They’re having a great time, and we’re having just as much fun,” said Dora, who posted on social media while holding a tackling dummy for a 7-year-old. “But it’s crazy that there’s snow at the very top and it’s hot down here. It’s a sight-to-see.”
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