This story was originally published on Feb. 7.
(CBS4) – Justin Simmons has made a name for himself on the field with his play, but his impact off the field has been far greater than stats could ever tell. Over the summer, Simmons, who was the Broncos Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee for a second straight season, helped organize marches in Denver and in his home state of Florida. The impact of those marches was felt at the Denver Broncos Boys & Girls Club.READ MORE: COVID In Colorado: State Now Offering To Create Vaccination Events At Businesses
“Our community, I feel like we’re not scared to speak up, but we don’t want to say the wrong thing,” says Nashara, a member of the Broncos Boys & Girls Club. “Seeing how the Broncos players and Justin Simmons were able to speak up it gave us a boost of self esteem so we can share our stories.”
This fall, the Denver Broncos Boys & Girls Club teamed up with the national organization, RISE, which strives to educate and empower the sports community to eliminate racial discrimination, champion social justice, and improve race relations.
“RISE helped us get a better understanding of Black Lives Matter and different movements,” added Ray Ray, another member of the Denver Broncos Boys & Girls Club.
The meetings took place virtually, and while Simmons was originally scheduled to sit in on just one meeting, he became a mainstay.READ MORE: Mobile Home Park Residents Return Home As Barricaded Suspect Who Fired A Gun Surrenders To Aurora Police
“We were just talking about relevant, real, and raw conversations,” said Simmons. “For me it was cool to sit there and hear some of the things we were talking about and what those kids at the Boys & Girls Club were saying. It only took 20-30 minutes for me to be like, ‘I’m going to ask them if I can keep coming.’”
Following in Simmons’ footsteps, Ray Ray and Nashara have organized their own March For Peace which will happen in April in the Montbello neighborhood.
“Justin Simmons hears us out. Justin wants to listen, and hear what we have to say. He showed me that just because I’m a team doesn’t mean I can’t be a leader,” said Ray Ray when asked about the impact Simmons has had on the Boys & Girls Club.
“It is inspirational to see how he has the fame, and see how he can use his voice,” added Nashara.
“That’s why I do what I do. All Pro is great. Pro Bowl’s are great. Winning a Super Bowl would be amazing, but that’s what I do what I do, is only to help kids. To help them get to where they want to be in life. That’s what it’s about. Is paying it forward,” says Simmons.MORE NEWS: David Torrez Gets 45 Years After Shooting Estranged Wife's Companion 7 Times
“This is how we build our communities. Investing into our youth and letting them pave the way forward. For the next generation.”