Dalton Risner returns for book signing, sharing his passion beyond football

Former Kansas State offensive lineman Dalton Risner holds the "FAMILY" block before the Baylor game. The Wildcats played the Bears at McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas on Oct. 6, 2018. (Archive photo by Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

Former football player Dalton Risner returned to Manhattan on Saturday for the first time since the 2019 NFL Draft for the book signing of his children’s book “Rise Up.”

Risner currently plays for the Denver Broncos, but as his fans know, he doesn’t measure his success in football accolades. While attending Kansas State, Risner created the RisnerUp Foundation with the purpose of using his influence for good. The foundation supports causes such as the Special Olympics and people struggling with serious illness.

The latest contribution to his foundation, as well as the reason for his return to Manhattan, is his recently published children’s book, “Rise Up.”

“The whole point of the nonprofit is to make impacts or to help people in need, and I figured a good way to get my word out there was a book,” Risner said. “Something that people could keep for a long time, and it is getting donations to my foundation with that money.”

Risner’s publisher Jefferson Knapp co-wrote the book with Risner with mindset of positivity.

“We came up with a story that was aligned with the message of the Risner Foundation,” Knapp said. “That is just to do the right thing and when you see something wrong you stand up – well, ‘Rise Up’ – and make a difference in people’s lives. And that is the message of his book.”

The book signing was held in the West Family Stadium and was attended by a steady flow of both K-State and Broncos fans. Many fans were warmly greeted with a hug from Risner, and each time he signed a book he took time to share a memory or create a moment with the fan.

Danielle Hodgson, senior in landscape architecture, was one such fan. Hodgson, originally from Colorado, is both a big fan of the Broncos and K-State.

“When I came to K-State I watched him play and … found out the Broncos had drafted him and I was just running around screaming because I was so happy,” Hodgson said. “I knew that he was a good player and I liked that he had really good values and I knew about his foundation.”

Upon their meeting, Risner and Hodgson related over small towns in the Denver area and what it is like to be a K-State student from Colorado. Risner also filmed a short video for Hodgson’s father’s birthday, who turned 56 that day.

Risner also plans to host a book signing in Denver where he will be close to home and his professional team. However, his return to Manhattan was incredibly meaningful.

“I mean, just looking out at the stadium — this is my home for five years. I have a lot of memories here,” he said. “I ran out of that tunnel and this is where I became who Dalton Risner became. This is where I became the football player I was. I mean this means a lot to me.”