Thanks to long snapper Lonie Paxton and his friend Corey Fairbanks, the Broncos practice on Thursday afternoon took place with a handful of special guests watching from the VIP tent adjacent to the practice fields.
Paxton, who is the vice president of the Active Force Foundation, which makes four-wheel mountain bikes to be used by disabled sports communities, hosted a handful of wounded members of the U.S. Military.
“We brought all these wounded soldiers out today so they could get an opportunity to meet some of the guys,” said Fairbanks, Executive Director of the Colorado Adaptive Sports Foundation. “It means a lot to these guys to be able to come out and get thanked for their service. We’re pretty excited about it.”
Fairbanks said that he and the wounded members of the military thoroughly enjoyed interacting with the Broncos players.
“It’s great,” Fairbanks said. “These guys are just guys like everybody else. And we like hanging out with just guys. Getting to see these guys and say hello to all of them is a dream come true for a lot of guys.”
An afternoon at an NFL practice was particularly special for Fairbanks because it reminded him of his playing days at the University of Nebraska.
“I played football at the University of Nebraska before I got hurt,” Fairbanks said. “So I come out here and I’m just like, ‘Man I miss being out here, hanging out with all the guys.’ It’s good just to come out and be with these guys.”
Paxton said he seizes every possible opportunity to show his gratitude and respect for the men and women who fight to serve the United States.
“Since I’ve gotten to Colorado, any charity event I can get involved in, I try and get involved with those guys because they have the ultimate sacrifice,” Paxton said. “And they like watching us play so it’s a good tradeoff. Training camp is a great time to bring them out and meet the players.”
“You see these guys and you know what they go through,” Paxton continued. “You don’t know exactly what they go through, but you hear the stories. To see the smiles on their faces when they come out here, for that split second you can take their mind off it and have them meet some guys and get to experience some of their heroes on the field.”