One of the most exciting days of the year for me is the day the Colts come to the pantry to volunteer! It’s wonderful to witness these professional athletes giving their time to make a difference in the lives of the veterans who visit. As a HUGE fan of the team, it is a blessing to have the opportunity to see these guys giving back! This year, I proudly wore my “Classy until Kickoff” T-shirt showing my sincere commitment to Colts fandom!
However, getting to chat with these players, you quickly get a sense they care about our community. One player, Chris Williams, was at the pantry last year and chose to come back to HVAF again because of the wonderful experience he had. He is from New York City and mentioned how much slower Indy is. I was thrilled to have two hats signed by this player, and he said he would be back next year to sign another one!
Another player, Wesley French, of the much trended “French Fries” O-line combo, shared about how thankful he was to help veterans. He said while he is a professional athlete, we were also professionals in our roles serving veterans. He spoke of how much of an honor it was to be there. Two cheerleaders also brought joy to our veterans this day! Everyone was willing to sign autographs and pose for pictures with staff and our veterans. The Colts Public Relations staff were also wonderful. I enjoyed speaking with their Community Relations person, Diego, as we have similar roles within our organizations.
The Colts organization has created a campaign to minimize the stigma of mental health issues with their campaign, “Kicking the Stigma.” We were awarded $25,000 from their foundation this year once again to support mental health care. Having both financial support and volunteering from the players shows the team’s commitment to the community. Watching the team on Sunday, the players seem larger than life as they perform on the football field. Getting to see them in person, while they are still very large, you realize how special these guys are off the field as well!