Pro football star Justin Simmons delights children at Boys & Girls Club

Dec. 8, 2023
Kids at the Boys & Girls Club of the Pikes Peak Region enjoy a visit from pro football player Justin Simmons recently.
Kids at the Boys & Girls Club of the Pikes Peak Region recently enjoyed a visit from pro football player Justin Simmons. Photos by Tyler Schank, for UCHealth.

Pure joy.

That’s what dozens of kids felt when pro football player Justin Simmons came to visit them recently at the Boys & Girls Club of the Pikes Peak Region.

“What’s up kids?’’ Simmons said as he stood before the youths, aged 5 to 18. “Can you hear me OK? My name is Justin Simmons, and for those who don’t know, I’m No. 31.

“I am so excited to be with you, and I can’t wait to have some fun with you guys.’’

The kids went wild, cheering, yelling, dancing.

A club leader had to yell “Marco,’’ a signal for the kids to yell “Polo!’’ and then quiet down.

A question-and-answer session began.

“How many touchdowns have you scored?’’ one kid asked.

“Ahh, great question,’’ Simmons said. “So I play defense, so it won’t be as many as you’d probably like to hear, but I’ve scored one touchdown so far.’’

Another question came: “What is your favorite team to play against?”

“Oh, good question. My favorite team to play against is probably the Chiefs.’’

“I knew it!’’ a kid blurted out.

At that point, Nicholas, 16, a kid who goes to the Boys & Girls Club every day to learn how to make drones and fly them, removed a T-shirt that had been given to the club youths as a gift from UCHealth, that said “Simmons. Simmons. Simmons.’’ Underneath, he wore a Kansas City Chiefs shirt.

Pure fun.

Kids at the Boys & Girls Club of the Pikes Peak Region enjoy a visit from pro football player Justin Simmons recently.

The kids from the Boys & Girls Club then presented Simmons with a gift, an orange and blue painting and a quarter-zip Boys & Girls Club pullover.

“Aww, man,’’ Simmons said. “Are you guys serious? This is awesome. Thank you so much.’’

The next activity, carpet ball, was on tap. It’s similar to billiards but played by sliding balls across a table and knocking the opponent’s balls off.

“Are you down?’’ Simmons was asked about taking on Nicholas in a game.

“I’m always down,’’ he answered. The kids began chanting: “Justin! Justin! Justin!’’

Back-and-forth they played. It came down to the nitty-gritty. Each player had a single ball left. Whoever got the other guy out, would win.

“There was a lot of precision between the two of us, but I knew if I missed it, he would have gotten in the next shot.

Nicholas rolled the ball across the carpet and bang – he knocked Simmons’ ball into the slot. Game over.

“You won! You won!’’ Simmons said, as he walked over to shake the hand of Nicholas.

After carpet ball, it came time for a drawing for six footballs autographed by Simmons.

Kids at the Boys & Girls Club of the Pikes Peak Region enjoy a visit from pro football player Justin Simmons recently.

Pure excitement. Again, the Boys & Girls Club leader had to quiet the place. Marco. Polo.

Simmons called out the numbers, one by one, as the kids cheered, hopeful to take memorabilia home with them.

“Check your numbers. Check your numbers. … And, we have a winner,’’ Simmons declared.

Six lucky kids, one of them Nicholas, went home with an autographed ball.

Then, it was on to dodgeball in the club’s gym. Simmons picked Nicholas, even though he wore a Chiefs shirt. Later, Simmons told him: “I wanted you on my team. You may have poor choices in football teams, but you’re a good kid.’’

Simmons picked his team, and he played like it was Sunday. He played to win. By the end of the dodgeball game in the gym, he had built up a full sweat.

“I came in with a competitive mindset, but I admit I didn’t expect to go full drench. I might have to change shirts. I think I have an extra shirt in the car. But it was so much fun. Once you get going, you’re like, ‘I’m going to get a few people out,’ and your competitive nature takes over. It was so much fun.

“I’m so thankful to UCHealth for hosting this and to the Boys & Girls Club for having me out here. … I hope the kids remember this forever and ever. I had a blast, and they were great sports.’’

James Sullivan, president of the Boys & Girls Club, was grateful for Simmons’ time.

“It’s a great day for kids,’’ Sullivan said. “It’s an honor for us.”

“I like to brag. Our club is 135 years old, and we’re the 8th oldest club in the Boys & Girls Club movement. These kinds of things never get old, and to see a world-class athlete take time out of his day to come and visit with kids who are inspired by his very presence, and they see that he is a regular person, just like them.

“And it allows them to dream. I couldn’t be happier to see him spend his time with us.’’

About the author

Erin Emery is editor of UCHealth Today, a hub for medical news, inspiring patient stories and tips for healthy living. Erin spent years as a reporter for The Denver Post, Colorado Springs Gazette and Colorado Springs Sun. She was part of a team of Denver Post reporters who won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting.

Erin joined UCHealth in 2008, and she is awed by the strength of patients and their stories.