Dalton Risner

Dalton is a Denver Bronco who is committed to serving his community and impacting the lives around him. As a Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee, he prides himself in working with organizations like Denver Rescue Mission that share the same mission in life: to help those in need both physically and spiritually.

What inspires you to give back to your community, both personally and as a Denver Bronco?

Everything that’s done off the field is so much more important than anything we can do on the field. Football is great and has given me this temporary platform to really make a difference. But what am I doing with that platform? Am I doing it for individual gain or am I doing it to help people around me? What I love about the Denver Broncos is that they understand the big picture. At some point, people aren’t going to know who you are or want your autograph, but they’re going to remember your heart, your love for other people and the impact that you made. So, it means everything to be on a team that cares so deeply about giving back to people that need it.

What are some of the ways you’ve supported those at the Mission?

I’ve partnered with Mountain Breeze Heating and Air to install an HVAC system into a family’s home. I’ve partnered with United Healthcare to do a coat giveaway for adults and kids at the Mission. We’ve donated money through my foundation, the RisnerUP foundation, and through the partnership with United Healthcare. I’ve dropped off clothes. I’ve served meals during the holidays and just during a normal week.

Do you have any favorite memories from the times you’ve spent at the Mission?

I love meeting different families and seeing some of the same ones throughout the year and how they’re doing better in life. Also serving meals—those are some of the special moments when you get to go and serve food to people because it brightens their day, gives them hope and lets them know that you care about them. Really just seeing the impact that I have on the people throughout the Mission and seeing the impact that the Mission has on the people. I’m just proud to work with an organization that is dedicated to benefiting the lives of others.

Why is it important for you to personally connect with those at the Mission, including the family who you helped install an HVAC system for in their home?

The Broncos have a great community outreach team, and I’m so grateful for the opportunities that they set up for us. But one thing I take pride in is doing things myself too. For that example, the Mission connected me with a Ukranian family who had a really old heating and air system, and we went over there to install a new one. It was during the initial days of the Russian and Ukrainian war, and they were really struggling with what was going on in their homeland. They cooked us all this Ukrainian food and just welcomed us into their homeland. My whole goal from that was just to impact their life and put a smile on their face. For me personally, coming from a family that didn’t have much growing up and really could have used the help from a professional sport player, I knew how much that would mean to them. That was an amazing moment to be able to put that in their house and see how grateful they were.

What would you say to inspire others to give back to their community?

Sometimes we need to slow down and remember that life isn’t all about personal gain. It’s good to look at the world around you and say, ‘How can I help other people?’ With me and my foundation, I want to actually give my time. I think time is way more important to people than money. Of course, money and food are needed, but people underestimate the value of taking time out for others to let them know you care about them. It’s about making an impact on those people’s lives, having conversations with them, making them smile, and letting them know that you’re praying for them and that you want to see them get back on their feet.

This post is part of February’s Changing Lives Newsletter. This month, we’re sharing the story of Frances and the hope she found at the Mission in: A Mother’s Strength.