For most kids, a birthday party at Dave and Buster’s is a right of passage.
But this wasn’t any birthday party and these weren’t any kids.
The hosts were Colts tight end Jack Doyle, his wife, Casie, and their son, Ronan.
“I had a birthday a couple months ago and I didn’t get to celebrate, so I thought it would be a good idea to get everybody together and celebrate all of our birthdays together,” said Jack.
He invited a few of his teammates – and they were more than happy to attend.
“It wasn’t very hard,” he said. “I asked a few of them if they’d come out here and play some games at Dave and Buster’s and they all jumped on it.”
Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle hosted his inaugural “Jack Doyle Birthday Celebration” for children from Dayspring Center, a shelter serving Indianapolis families experiencing homeless.
The guests of honor were kids from the Dayspring Center, a shelter for homeless families in Indianapolis.
“Unfortunately, our kids have to grow up a lot quicker sometimes and they’re not able to be kids,” said Executive Director Lori Casson. “They’ve got to think about adult things – where are we going to sleep, what are we going to eat – there’s no time for playing or even coming to a place like this because they can’t afford this.”
For the Doyles, it puts things in perspective.
“As a parent, we’re always trying to create good memories for our children,” said Casie. “We always want the good memories to outweigh the hard times. And any way that we can help these parents to feel like they’re creating memories for their children, that was really special to us.”
Kids who are going through a tough time, living in a temporary place – maybe they didn’t get to celebrate their birthday this year. Maybe they’ve never celebrated their birthday.
On Monday night, they celebrated with the Colts.
At Dave and Buster’s in Castleton, Jack Doyle was shooting hoops with some boys. Next to him, Jacoby Brissett was working the giant claw, insisting it was broken because the prizes kept falling through. Across the room, Kenny Moore rode motorcycles with a young boy while Erik Swoope, Mo Alie-Cox, and Phillip Walker played skeeball, raced cars, and tossed footballs.
It was a great night to just be a kid.
“The people that they go to school with, the people that they encounter probably don’t even know the circumstances that are going on at home,” said Moore. “I just treat it like a fun day for them to get away from their problems. It’s good to see the smiles on their faces because I know they go through so much.”
It was also a great night to be an adult.
“They got the best group of guys, because these guys are a bunch of kids,” Casie said. “So, they really could not have chosen a better group for them to come play with.”
And as competitive as they are on the field, they’re just as competitive off of it.
“I think it’s coming out a little too much right now. I should try to tone it down,” laughed Brissett.
Long after the kids moved on to other things, he was still at the claw game trying to win someone a prize.
“The challenge isn’t done yet. And I live close to here, so I’ll probably be back until I win it.”
For them, it was a nice release from the daily grind and a way to put it all in perspective.
“These kids were so fun. They’re really good kids. You could tell they really appreciate it,” Brissett said. “It’s no surprise that a guy like Jack puts on an event like this.”
“When he told me about it, he said, ‘I don’t really know how much time you have in your schedule.’ And I said, ‘I’m going to make time in my schedule,’” Moore said. “I went home and took a nap before I came here, just to make sure I had the energy to come out and really shine a light on these kids.”
And that’s what they did.
For hours, they poured into them with light, laughter, and love.
Afterwards, they ate dinner, sang happy birthday to themselves and each other, and had cake together.
Asked how much fun he had, 11-year-old Wesley replied, “On a scale of one to 10 – 10.”
It was a happy birthday celebration for kids during a year that may not have started out so happy.
“Just like these kids are forgetting about their problems, whatever I’m going through, I forget about it because I’m doing something to make these kids smile,” said Moore. “And they’re making me smile too.”
Instead of a birthday forgotten, it was a birthday they’ll never forget.
“And that’s what it’s all about,” Jack said.
The lessons they all took away – never stop believing that happiness is right around the corner, that people you don’t know do care, and that taking the time to brighten someone else’s day brightens yours too.
The party kicked off Jack and Casie Doyle's Birthday Club, which provides gift cards to children from the Dayspring Center on their birthday.