The Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center is a place of many stories.
"If you just stand around and listen to them, you will get a great story – whether it's just in passing or whether you sit down and have a few minutes just to talk with them," said Volunteer Service Officer Tabitha Ingram.
And the Colts found that out first hand.
"They will tell a story," said Clayton Geathers. "But it's good just to hear where they came from and what they did for this country and for us. It is humbling."
Last Friday night at the Colts facility, junior cheerleaders decorated footballs with words of thanks and encouragement.
On Tuesday afternoon, Colts players, cheerleaders and Colts mascot, Blue went room to room at the VA hospital in honor of Veteran's Day and the NFL's Salute to Service. They delivered footballs to patients along with gift bags and spent time with them sharing stories and just listening.
"We made your day? You made ours. Look at that smile," said Rachel.
"I appreciate you guys coming back," he responded. "God bless all of you. Keep grabbing that ball, man."
"We walked in and he said we made his day. He made my day," Geathers said. "My uncle was in the military and just hearing his story – I have some ties, major respect. I'm just thankful to be here."
There are close ties between football and the military. Many comparisons have been made over the years – but for Geathers, there's no question who the real heroes are.
"We go to battle on the field and they do as well, but they do it for the whole world. They're selfless. They go out on the battlefield and protect America."
Luke Rhodes also grew up with an appreciation for the military.
"My father is a former Marine. Both grandfathers were in the Navy."
He called it a blessing to be able to show up and show his support for those who served.
"You meet a total stranger and you touch their lives, they may touch yours. You just never know who you're going to meet or what someone is going through or what they've been through."
And what they got in return was all the thanks they needed.
"Smiles, mostly when they saw the cheerleaders walk in – but sometimes when we were coming in too," he laughed.
"The cheerleaders got all the attention," said Anthony Walker. "We were just along for the ride today. The cheerleaders stole the show."
Walker has no personal military ties, but it was still important to him to come out and show his support.
"You think of veterans and the life that we're able to have because of them, the sacrifices that they made for us," he said. "Any time I'm able to help put a smile on someone's face is always cool."
The Indianapolis Colts visited the VA Medical Center for its annual Veterans Day event. Colts players distributed decorated footballs and care packages to the patients as a 'thank you' for their service to our country.
In the end, the joy they spread came back around.
"What they receive from the Colts, I'm pretty sure the Colts get from them," said Ingram. "So, it's almost like a give and take situation. Just to know that they are recognized by our community and thankful and appreciated, it means a lot to them."
The Colts will honor all military service members and their families on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium when they play the Pittsburgh Steelers in their Salute to Service game.
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