Ben Garland's grandparents, Hal and Sharon Garland, are understandably proud of their grandson, who in the last three years has graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy, become a commissioned officer and now a Denver Bronco battling for a roster spot at defensive tackle.

But when the devastating Waldo Canyon fire struck Colorado Springs in late June, their neighborhood was in the crosshairs, and they lost everything -- including irreplaceable mementos such as Ben Garland's two Academy sabres and his college football helmet.  

Wednesday, Garland's teammates had a surprise for him -- replacements for the destroyed treasures.  William T. Thompson, the president/CEO of the Air Force Academy Association of Graduates, presented the swords, while teammate Joe Mays carried the helmet.

Garland had attempted to contact the Association of Graduates for replacement sabres, but his efforts had not gotten far.

"They said, 'Contact this person,' and then they said, 'Contact this person,' so it was tough," Garland said. "I wasn't able to get a hold of them. Plus with all this (training camp) going on, it's been kind of on the back burner."

Mays was coy when asked how he and the Broncos' defensive linemen helped get the helmet and swords to Garland.

"We've got a couple of connections," Mays said as a grin crossed his face. "It worked out well for us.

"You want to do special things like that for a person like Ben -- just the type of personality that he has, he always comes to work just eager and willing to get better.  He's just an awesome human being as a whole. We're going to do whatever it takes.  I'm just glad that we were able to get him something."

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