Editor’s Note: The NFLPA Community MVP recognizes players who are making a positive impact in their local communities. Each week, the NFLPA will celebrate one player who recently demonstrated his commitment to giving back to his community, and will make a donation to the player’s foundation or cause in support. This week’s #CommunityMVP is Denver Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler, who meets with the patients of Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children and has made the cause of helping children with cancer a philanthropic focus.
Every Monday is a new opportunity for Denver Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler to make a difference in his community. The Broncos are no pushovers, but a victory on Sunday typically allows for a lighter schedule on Mondays. Osweiler, now in his third NFL season, often takes advantage of the additional free time.
“So I kind of have a different theme to every day,” Osweiler told NFLPA.com. “The majority of the days, the theme is all about football, but Monday I call it ‘Pay It Forward Monday.’”
At the start of this season, Osweiler formed a relationship with the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children to set up monthly visits with the patients on Mondays. So far, he has visited the hospital twice, spending roughly 15 minutes with each patient and taking the time thank the hospital staff for their hard work.
“There are so many young kids at that hospital that are going through very difficult times in their lives,” Osweiler said. “I firmly believe that no kid should have to experience those things. For example, I was visiting with a young woman [Amelia Zemlock] there who is 18 years old. She was talking about how during the previous four years she’d been in and out of the hospital. I look back to my high school experience, and it was playing sports and it was having fun with your buddies. Well, she’s been battling for her life during her high school.”
“So I just think any time that you can give back to kids and put a smile on their face and maybe brighten their day a little bit is a good thing.”
Zemlock, who suffers from a form of bone cancer called Osteosarcoma, is a big Broncos fan and has her hospital room filled with Broncos décor. As he does for all the patients he visits, Osweiler brought along a goody bag filled with a Broncos stuffed animal, Broncos stickers and a personalized signed photo.
Zemlock placed her new stuffed animal next to her mini Broncos turtle and was thrilled by the experience. Osweiler even promised to put a good word in with Demaryius Thomas, one of her favorite players.
“The visits to Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children has not only been a great thing for the kids, but it’s played a huge part in my life as well,” Osweiler said. “Playing in the NFL, I’m essentially living out my dream every single day, and I’m so fortunate for so many great things. To be able to be in a situation to give back just a little bit is something that means a lot to me. I think there is a great responsibility for NFL players to do that. It’s been a great deal so far.”
Osweiler also gives back to the Arizona community, which he calls home after an outstanding collegiate career at Arizona State University. While scanning the Arizona Republic on the Broncos’ return flight from a late away game in New England, he stumbled upon the story of West Valley, Arizona toddler Cali Griggs and realized he needed to get involved.
Less than a year ago, a tumor was found on two-year old Cali’s adrenal gland. Despite multiple surgeries and chemotherapy, the tumors spread, leaving her with terminal cancer and now only months to live.
“I saw this story about the Griggs family and Cali Griggs and it just kind of sparked something in me,” Osweiler said. “Once again, it’s such a young child to be going through such a difficult time. I can only imagine what her parents have gone through.”
Cali’s diagnosis has taken a massive toll on her parents both emotionally and financially due to the mounting medical costs and emotional pain.
To make Cali’s final days as special as possible, her parents asked for the public’s support. Cali’s favorite holiday is Christmas, and it is unlikely she will make it to see another one. Their wish was twofold; they sought to hold a special early edition of Christmas for Cali and to bring her to Flagstaff to play in the snow. In her short life, she has yet to see snow.
When Osweiler read about her story, he reached out to the family immediately. He has arranged to cover the family’s trip to Flagstaff, as well as any meals that haven’t already been sponsored by Flagstaff restaurants.
“Just to be able to do something that could potentially take their mind off all the hard things—even if it’s just for an hour or whatever that time may be—it’s something that I love to be involved with,” Osweiler said.
So far, the Griggs family has already surpassed their $25K goal. This weekend they will put a Christmas tree in their home and leave a new present for Cali every day. Thanks to Osweiler and the support of many others, Cali’s last days will be special.
While Osweiler has focused much of his charitable efforts on helping pediatric cancer patients, he’s also spent time supporting Habitat for Humanity and various causes in his home state of Montana, including helping sick children gain access to hospitals across the country that better fit their needs.
In the near future, Osweiler hopes to create his own foundation and continue to make an impact in several local communities.
“I’ve been very fortunate to see a lot of different players’ charities and what they do, and I’ve been able to do different things in the community as far as service goes,” Osweiler said. “I’ve created a list of things I would like to do—hopefully with a charity of my own in the future.”
-- Rob Troiano
Photos provided by the Denver Broncos
Past NFLPA Community MVPs: