This week, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers joined forces with the American Cancer Society to bring cheer and inspiration to individuals in need of support.
In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, three Buccaneer players – Connor Barth, Adam Hayward and Doug Martin – in addition to Buccaneers Cheerleaders served dinner to residents at the Benjamin Mendick Hope Lodge. The Hope Lodge is a facility that offers out-of-town cancer patients and their caregivers a free, temporary place to stay in Tampa while receiving effective cancer treatment.
Additionally, the Buccaneers presented the American Cancer Society with a $5,000 donation that will provide free wigs, prostheses and mastectomy supplies to cancer patients receiving treatment in the Bay area. Through the American Cancer Society, the items will be provided to patients who are uninsured, or to those who cannot afford them.
Though they deal with difficult emotional and physical circumstances on a daily basis, the Hope Lodge residents fully embraced the opportunity to share stories and laughs with their Buccaneer guests.
"They are so much fun, they just want to talk about football," said Barth, a former UNC Tar Heel. "I talked with one patient who was going through leukemia and he is from North Carolina, so we hit it off."
One of the patients who really enjoyed Barth's company was Jack Rabon, an electrical engineer who is fighting off melanoma.
"This just raises the bar, this is so fantastic," Rabon said. "The next time I see him take the field and whomp that through the upright, that's the man that I have spoken to. This is just great; I never would have had this opportunity if he hadn't come here."
Hayward also expressed how grateful he was for the chance to be part of Tuesday's event. During a heartfelt address to the group, he shared that they had something in common.
"I lost my mother to breast cancer," Hayward said. "The impacts that we can have outside of football, those are what last a lifetime. I want to thank you for allowing us to be here."
This month, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will support National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in an effort to raise funds and awareness to combat the deadly disease. The NFL's "A Crucial Catch" breast cancer screening and fundraising campaign reminds women 40 and older about the importance of having an annual mammogram. To date, the campaign has raised more than $3 million for the American Cancer Society, with the majority of the donation coming from the sale of pink items at retail and on NFL Auction. On October 14, when the Buccaneers host the Kansas City Chiefs, the Buccaneers will continue to support the cause through a variety of gameday elements to help raise awareness. For more information on the NFL's fight against breast cancer, visit www.nfl.com/pink.