John Hickenlooper proclaims official John Elway Day in Colorado to honor Broncos legend
Author: Ernest Luning - May 26, 2017 - Updated: May 27, 2017
Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday declared May 24, 2017, John Elway Day in Colorado, but the Denver Broncos general manager and former quarterback didn’t know he had a holiday until late in the evening after he’d finished eating dinner along with 2,000 business, political and civic leaders at the Mizel Institute’s annual dinner in Denver.
The affable legend said he wished the governor had told him that it was his day earlier so he could have taken the day off, grinning nearly ear to ear.
Elway was soon to receive the Institute’s 2017 Community Enrichment Award, given annually to an individual who exemplifies service toward bettering the community — that’s what packed the converted Air Force hanger at the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum in the Lowry neighborhood — but before that, Hickenlooper and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock had some honors of their own to bestow.
Accompanied by four youngsters wearing No. 7’s iconic orange jersey — they’re members of the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Denver, one of many organizations Elway has championed and supported since arriving in town 34 years ago — Hickenlooper read his official proclamation wearing a Broncos jersey of his own.
“John Elway has elevated Colorado’s professional sports landscape throughout his stellar career with the Denver Broncos, helping to create a dedicated fanbase and a team beloved by sports fans across the country,” he said, and then the young athletes took over, listing distinctions such as leading the Broncos to five Super Bowl appearances and two world championships, including the team’s third over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.
“Therefore I, John W. Hickenlooper, governor of the entire state of Colorado do hereby proclaim forever after May 24, 2017 as John Elway Day,” the governor concluded, and the crowd went wild.
Also wearing a Broncos jersey, Hancock said he’d been a Broncos fan since he was 6 years old and reminded the audience that he was the Broncos mascot at one time — “the best mascot of the Denver Broncos, Miles,” he said with a grin and a nod toward the team’s current mascot — and delivered a heartfelt tribute to Elway and his place in the hearts of millions.
“John, there are very few people, and I mean this sincerely, who have left as indelible a mark on our state, our city — heck, our region — than you have,” he said. “When I think about our city and the ‘never say die, never give up, the game isn’t over until the clock says so’ (spirit), it goes right back to you.”
The mayor then bestowed on Elway a rare City of Denver Challenge Medallion — Hancock said just 100 of them had been created a few years ago, inspired by former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, the lone survivor of Operation Redwing in Afghanistan — as a symbol of allegiance and service to the public.
“This medallion recognizes and honors your leadership and commitment to the community through your work with organizations that support children and servicemen and -women and many others,” Hancock said. “There is no higher honor or symbol of our appreciation and respect.”
See next week’s issue of The Colorado Statesman for full coverage of the the Mizel Institute’s annual dinner and the 2017 Community Enrichment Award.