ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. - - The Denver Broncos have joined FOX31's effort to “Support the Shield.” The team presented Shield616 kits to 120 first responders from 34 agencies around the state Thursday.
Shield616 and the Broncos, led by Von Miller, made this possible. Miller spearheaded the effort to collect $200,000 from his teammates, coaches and staff.
Executive Director of Community Development for the Broncos, Allie Pisching said, “We believe this program has the opportunity to impact and save thousands of lives, not only the lives of our officers, but the lives of our citizens who are impacted by active and mass shooters.” She went on to say, “Throughout the NFL this year, there’s been a tremendous focus on social justice initiatives. Each team, each player, each individual has a different meaning of what that is. For our players, we really encouraged them to find something they are passionate about and lead something, lead a charge. So when Von Miller approached our executive team and our staff about wanting to do something to support law enforcement, we had a variety of options for him. When he heard about Shield616 and saw the kit for the first time, there was no question for him. He said this is it, this is how much I want to do, I want to get my teammates involved. He led a team presentation right after Thanksgiving.”
The Broncos’ Von Miller said, “The standard vest they have only stops handguns, that blew my mind.” After the presentation, Miller said, “Man it’s incredible. There’s a guy out here shot a year ago, if he would’ve had this equipment, it would’ve protected. It makes me feel good to make other people feel good. I’m just blown away to be part of the project, it’s cool. There’s so many mass shootings and so many dangers, to protect those who protect us is incredible.. it’s just a god feeling can’t even put into words.”
This donation is especially meaningful to Denver Police Officer, John Allread. He was shot in the line of duty in May 2017 while trying to help a suicidal person. Officer Allread said, “I was shot in the right hip, shattered my femur right below the joint. I was out for about four months. Made a full recovery just climbed a 14er.” He went on to say, “I don’t have the words to explain this. It’s absolutely incredible. To have this gift from members of the community, members of the Broncos organization. It’s incredible. It’s a statement of love. Knowing I’ve got better protection on me, knowing I’ve got the community as our back, it’s incredible.”
Founder of Shield616, Jake Skifstad said, “Today`s not just about better protecting our officers or firefighters, it`s about the community building. You can see the smiles, you can see the encouragement you can see the uplifting.”
The Broncos believe this is just the beginning. Pisching said, “The goal is to continue working together, finding common ground, going into neighborhoods that may need a little extra help than others, and doing it together as a unified team.”
Some of the players already have a special connection with first responders. Phillip Lindsey played football at CU with Denver Police Officer Andrew Bergner. Both had dreams of becoming police officers. Lindsay said, “Now he`s a police officer and I`m proud of him. Sometimes I get nervous because it’s dangerous, but I trust him. And If I see him and I`m speeding, I`m going to continue to drive off.”
Officer Bergner, who just graduated from the academy, is so appreciative. He said, “For him to support me like this, means a lot. To buy me all this gear to help me in my job. Hopefully one day he will come out and I can teach him some stuff too.”
Skifstad said the Broncos’ donation makes a dent in the need, but there are still 9,000 first responders that still need gear in Colorado. Skifstad said, “Anyone from the community, whether it’s an individual, a foundation, a church, or professional sports teams. They can all get involved and make an impact and before you know it, our whole state will be protected and supported. To make a donation, sponsor a first responder or for more information visit Shield616's website.