As the Colts wrapped up their first practice of training camp on Thursday afternoon, 20 kids in bright green Huntington Camp Heroes t-shirts rushed the field at Grand Park and huddled up with the players.
“Alright, you guys are going to help us break down the huddle,” said tight end Eric Ebron. “We’re going to yell ‘Colts’ on three, ok? Ready? Everybody, let’s go – one, two, three…”
Afterwards, the players and coaches hung out, chatted with the kids, took pictures, and signed their shirts.
“Hey, I’m Andrew,” said quarterback Andrew Luck. “What’s your name? How old are you?”
It was precious one-on-one time with players they consider heroes.
For the 10th year, the Colts have teamed up with Huntington Bank to host the Huntington Camp Heroes program.
“It’s really about giving kids that wouldn’t normally have the chance, a chance to come out and have a VIP moment here at Colts Camp,” said John Corbin, Indiana Region President for Huntington Bank. “They get a chance to watch practice, they get a chance to eat, they get a t-shirt, they get to meet Blue and also the cheerleaders.”
Huntington reached out to the Children’s Bureau, which offers emergency temporary shelter for children and teens in Central Indiana. For the kids, Colts Training Camp was a fun way to spend the day just being kids.
“It gives them the opportunity not to be reminded of their situation, not to be reminded of the trauma that they’ve come from, and also – it’s great for them to see that people don’t always look at them through the eyes of their trauma,” said Ifeoma Morrison, Director of the Children’s Bureau’s Courage Center.
Where you start doesn’t have to determine where you finish in life.
Many of the Colts players had to overcome difficult circumstances on their way to the NFL. Their stories resonate with the kids.
“It’s something that I can’t make up, I don’t have to make up. I don’t have to come up with some fairytale idea or come up with some made-up story,” Morrison said. “They feel as if, ‘My experience, what’s going on with me right now won’t always dictate my future.’”
At some point, it may inspire their future.
But for now, the Colts and Huntington just want them to know they care.
“Not only do they know about us, but they care about us,” said Morrison. “A bank like Huntington Bank and a big organization like the Colts – that they know about us, they care about us, and not only that, but they actually did something to show that they know about us and they care about us.”
During a difficult time in their lives, the Colts and Huntington came together to give these kids a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“That’s what today is about, to give those kids something really special,” said Corbin.
And at the end of the day, that’s exactly what they did.