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Denver Broncos

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Nashara Ellerbee and Naja'Ray West

The Denver Broncos are proud to nominate Nashara Ellerbee and Naja'Ray West for the 2022 Inspire Changemaker Award in recognition of their collective teamwork to inspire change and engage other youth in their work.

After participating in the Denver Broncos and RISE multiweek youth leadership series in Fall 2020 to learn about diversity and inclusion-related concepts, the duo was inspired to think about how they could take meaningful action to improve race relations and address social injustices in their community.

"[The RISE program] showed me just because I'm young, doesn't mean I'm not a leader in my community," West said.

Nashara and Naja'Ray worked together to develop an idea that would eventually become "March for Peace" — featuring a 5K run and walk, a memorial garden remembering loved ones lost to violence, free meals, and a community celebration. 

"It's so important because we're the youth, we're the next generation, so we need to be the ones speaking out — and it starts here," Ellerbee said. "It starts in our own community, within our own homes."

The now two-time event (2021-22) engages their Boys & Girls Club community (youth, staff and families), the Denver Broncos Football Club (players, coaches, staff), local law enforcement, and the greater Montbello community.

The duo's leadership was elevated when they became peer leaders during the second cohort of the Broncos and RISE youth leadership program (Spring 2022), helping mentor younger club members going through the program for the first time and lifting up their voices.

The work and vision of the two young women inspired Broncos safety Justin Simmons. "I don't know what you guys were doing at 15, but I definitely wasn't leading marches for peace in my neighborhood and thinking about what I could do for the betterment of my community," Simmons said. "They inspire me to want to be better."

In July, the duo and the Club received national recognition via the 2022 Boys & Girls Clubs of America National Award for Community Service in recognition of the March for Peace.