As Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey broke from a group Thursday with an autographed football tucked under his arm, onlookers at Invesco Field cried for 98-year-old Alta Wadsack to tackle him.
The spry Wadsack, a life-long Broncos fan, was right on Bailey’s heels but instead of bringing the all-pro to the turf, she smiled radiantly and hugged him.
It was a dream come true for Wadsack, thanks to friends, family, Bailey, the Denver Broncos and Jeremy Bloom’s Wish of a Lifetime foundation.
“I’ve been wanting to meet him,” Wadsack said of her favorite player. “How do you get to meet a football player?”
For Wadsack — who catches every Denver Broncos game on television while wearing a Bailey jersey — her dream came true when Bailey, dressed in blue jeans, white tennis shoes and a button-up dress shirt, casually approached her.
An initially stunned Wadsack hugged Bailey who stooped down to hug back.
“I watch you every game,” Wadsack told him smiling.
“I love that, thank you,” Bailey said. “I need the support.”
Bailey presented Wadsack with an autographed football, a Denver Broncos blanket and a miniature, collectible Broncos helmet.
Wadsack tackled another first Thursday, when she rode in a limousine with her friend Diana Hollingsworth. The pair met while working at a See’s Candies shop almost 45 years ago. They’ve been friends ever since, and Hollingsworth got Wadsack to the surprise meeting under the guise that they were going to tour the stadium.
The meeting with Champ was arranged by Bloom — a Colorado native, All-American football player with the University of Colorado, former National Football League wide receiver, and two-time Olympic and three-time World Champion skier — through his foundation that enriches the lives of seniors.
“It’s all about the moment,” Bloom said after watching the exchange. “It’s about doing something for someone else. It’s a much better feeling than doing something for yourself.”
Before meeting Wadsack on the turf at Invesco Field, Bailey spoke to a group of locals who helped support charitable fund-raising efforts for the Denver Rescue Mission’s Denver Broncos Youth Center.
Bailey spoke to about 170 people at a luncheon in the stadium’s club level, answered a few questions, signed autographs and posed for photographs.
Bailey, 32, who signed a four-year, $43 million contract with the Broncos earlier this week, thanked those gathered for making a commitment to the local community.
Bailey said putting his house up for sale before the contract deal came through was a “negotiating tactic and it worked.”
He smiled and the crowd laughed in approval.
“This place is special to me,” Bailey said. “It’s people like you that make me want to stay.”
Kieran Nicholson: 303-954-1822 or firstname.lastname@example.org.