Buccaneers Personnel Executive Doug Williams congratulates 2004 Community Quarterback Matt Burton
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosted a banquet on Thursday, December 16 to honor the 10 finalists for the 2004 Community Quarterback award and to announce this year's winner. The Buccaneers received over 100 applications for the award, with nominees representing many different charities around the Bay area.
The 2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Community Quarterback is Matt Burton, a 16-year-old sophomore at Plant High School in Tampa.
The NFL Community Quarterback recognizes outstanding volunteers in the 32 NFL markets. The program honors individuals who exemplify leadership, dedication and a commitment to improving the communities in which they live through volunteerism.
The 10 finalists were selected by a panel of judges that included members of the local media and Buccaneer representatives. Each of the finalists represented an organization for which he or she volunteers regularly throughout the year. In addition to Burton, who works with Easter Seals, the finalists included Robert Blackburn from Access Hernando, Terry Burton from Big Brothers Big Sisters, Bob Dutton from The Child Protection Center, Cal Erb from The Florida Center for Child & Family Development, Edward Gallio from Daystar Life Center, Lloyd Grantham from American Red Cross, Kay Hance from Grady Elementary, Bob Munsch from the Centre for Women and Ann Williams from the Dawn Center of Hernando.
Each of the ten finalists received a $1,000 grant for the organization for which he or she volunteers. Doug Williams, former star quarterback and current personnel executive for the Buccaneers, was on hand to deliver the keynote address and present each finalist with a trophy.
Williams was honored to help in the recognition of volunteers who work so hard to make the Tampa Bay area a great place to live.
"Tonight is worthwhile because you realize there are so many people who help others," said Williams. "Sometimes we have to go out of our way to help other people, and that's what these people have done."
Burton has been a volunteer ever since his days as a Tiger Cub in the first grade. As his Eagle Scout project, Burton chose to build a playground for the Easter Seals Child Development Center. He realized that the center was in need of an area where the children could play while developing their physical and social skills. Burton created a business plan to determine what needed to be done in terms of designing, fundraising and gaining the needed equipment. All together, he raised $10,525 for the new playground, which was dedicated on June 24, 2004.
By winning the Community Quarterback award, Burton gained an additional $10,000 grant for Easter Seals Florida. He will go on to compete against local winners from the other 31 NFL teams for the national Community Quarterback award. The national winner will receive another $15,000 grant for their volunteer organization.
"I couldn't have [built the playground] myself," said Burton. "I had a lot of help. The kids at Easter Seals needed help, and I did it for the children."
Sue Preston and Grace Armstrong attended the banquet as representatives of Easter Seals. They were excited about the additional money Burton's award gained for the Child Development Center. The money will be used, they said, to further improve the playground so that toddlers and small children may use the equipment also.
Burton received a football autographed by Williams in addition to the trophy. When asked what he would do with the ball given to him by Williams, Burton replied, "I don't think I'm going to ever let it go. I think I'll hold on to it for awhile."