If Dr. Seuss could have penned Wesley Woodyard’s story, he might have written, “What if leadership isn’t muscle shown on the field or bought from a store. What if leadership…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
For as strong and hard-hitting as Woodyard is on the football field for the Denver Broncos, his true muscle glistens off the field.
“Wesley Woodyard is the epitome of why this city has such a love affair with the Denver Broncos,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said. “He gives of himself endlessly. He rocks it every year not only on the field, but more importantly off the field.”
If you stepped inside the Denver Aquarium Monday night and looked to the left, you saw enough toys to make the North Pole elves think that their jobs were done early. Stuffed animals, basketballs, remote control cars, and dolls among other things were lined up roughly 25 stairs deep underneath a lighted Christmas tree.
“Because of the efforts of Wesley and the 16Ways Foundation, there will be some children who will wake up on Christmas morning, who will be able to open gifts that they otherwise would not have been able to open,” Mayor Hancock said.
For the fourth year in a row, Woodyard and his 16Ways Foundation hosted a toy drive to benefit children in the Denver metro area. The toys collected will be distributed to the Tennyson Center, and GIVE: Denver’s Adopt-A-Family Program.
“It’s all about the kids,” Woodyard said. “That’s something that I couldn’t imagine. Waking up on Christmas morning and not having a toy to open up. It’s a great way to reach out and help a lot of kids throughout Colorado.”
He’s served as a team captain ever since his rookie year.
He also co-founded the 16Ways Foundation with his lifelong mentor, Derrick Kelley, who has been a father figure for the sixth-year undrafted player out of the University of Kentucky.
Early on, Kelley told Woodyard, “‘I want you to be a productive citizen.’ I told him that from day one. ‘You don’t owe me a dime, you don’t owe me a car, you don’t owe me a house. I need you to be a big brother to my kids. I need you to be a productive citizen. That’s all I ask.’ He’s well ahead of the game.”
The 16Ways Foundation benefits at-risk youth by offering them guidance and support through football camps across the country and through anti-bullying efforts.
“I’ve known Wesley for a longtime, since the University of Kentucky, and his heart for the community is real,” teammate Jacob Tamme said. “He doesn’t put on. He really cares about what’s going on around here.”
From 16Ways staff to volunteers, the entire goal of the foundation is to make sure that the kids they reach know that they genuinely have someone looking out for them…even on Christmas morning.
So to finish up what Dr. Seuss would write, “You’re a good one, Mr. Wood-yard! The three words that best describe you are as follows, and I quote: ‘Sterling, stupendous, stud!'”
All of Whoville, errrr, Denver agrees.