Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston wants every child to know that they are special. On Tuesday, Winston shared an inspiring experience with a special group of students and helped ensure that hundreds more will have a happier holiday season this year.
In an effort that kicked off at Bill Currie Ford and culminated at One Buccaneer Place, Winston hosted the second annual Famous Jameis Jamboree to provide toys and inspiration for hundreds of children in need of hope this holiday season.
The Buccaneers Academy initiative is comprised of 24 Hillsborough County schools adopted by the Buccaneers through a curriculum-based program that engages underserved students and encourages learning. As the “Quarterback” of the Buccaneers Academies initiative, which serves more than 14,000 students that are located in mostly economically-distressed areas of Hillsborough County, Winston is dedicated to helping youth reach their full academic potential.
“When I took the quarterback position for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I knew I had a lot on my shoulders,” said Winston. “But now being the quarterback of the Buccaneers Academy, it’s a huge deal to me because I have so many kids that are looking up to me. Not only from the football-side, but now that I’m the leader of the Academy, I have to make sure that I’ve always got a good smile on my face and I always represent them in the right way.”
That dedication was on full display following the gift-giving, as Winston invited the group to One Buccaneer Place where a huge contingent of fans gathered for the Jamboree – a family-friendly event requesting the donation of a new, unwrapped toy to gain admission to the festivities. All toy donations, which overflowed out of their large treasure chest containers, would be given to underserved students at Buccaneers Academy schools – local institutions through which the team provides resources and hands-on participation from Buccaneers players, cheerleaders and staff.
The upbeat scene at One Buccaneer Place included interactive games, PLAY 60 drills, music, food trucks, and holiday cheer led by Winston as well as Buccaneers Cheerleaders and Captain Fear. As the quarterback weaved his way throughout the crowd to interact with children and thank fans for their support, it was clear the themes of the evening were family, fun, and supporting the community’s youth.
“The more we can impact people off the field, the better we can get things changed around in this world and in Tampa Bay,” said Winston. “On our team, family is very important to us. Just having that overall family feeling in this city can take us a long way.”
Tuesday’s event was another initiative of Bucs for a Better Bay, the team’s far-reaching commitment to making Tampa Bay better today and for generations to come. As was evident on Tuesday evening, the experience would leave a lasting impression on the Buccaneers Academy families in need of hope and support this holiday season.
“This was awesome,” said Jorge Gomez, whose daughter participated in the experience. “He has a big heart. The type of person he is… he’s like family to us now.”