Words that appropriately summarize the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado last week don’t exist. Innocent, well-meaning people went to a theater for a special midnight screening of a highly-hyped summer movie, and 12 didn’t come home, while 58 others were injured. Now a Colorado community that isn’t far from Columbine is mourning.

It has indeed been a community effort, with a vigil held yesterday. The Denver Broncos are part of the Colorado community, and eight Broncos players visited recovering shooting victims in the hospital on Sunday.

The group that included Ryan Clady, Joe Mays, Ben Garland, Brian Dawkins, Chris Kuper, Eric Decker, and Jacob Tamme were crammed into hospital rooms, and their reflections on the experience put our excitement for the opening of training camps this week into perspective.

Dawkins tied the event back to his family, knowing what his immediate reaction would have been.

From the Broncos team website:

“When a tragedy happens to us as people, what I quickly do is think, ‘What if that was me? What if that was my brother? Or what if that was a friend going through that?’” Dawkins said. “It’s such a surreal thing that can happen in any place. So, I wanted to get in here and visit as many people as I could as quickly as possible to just bring a smile to their faces in the midst of what they’re going through right now.”

They met Josh Nowlen, a Patriots fan and an Iraq war veteran who was wounded in his leg while covering and protecting his friends. Nothing distracts the mind quite like casual, fun football banter with a group of players who play for a team that was defeated by your team during the playoffs last year.

There was also a connection made with Carey Rottman, another victim wounded in his leg. Rottman was a running back at Winona State College, and he played against Kuper, and has close friends who played with Mays and Decker. Small worlds collided, and spirits were lifted.

Peyton Manning also called four of the shooting victims. Just pure class all around.

Pic via the Broncos.com