The 2017 Buccaneers Rookie Club teamed up with Metropolitan Ministries for annual fall festival.
It was hard to tell who was having more fun on Tuesday afternoon as the 2017 Buccaneers Rookie Club joined over 200 kids from Metropolitan Ministries for an annual Fall Festival. Rookies O.J. Howard, Chris Godwin, Kendall Beckwith, Justin Evans, Bobo Wilson, Stevie Tu'ikolovatu, Anthony Auclair, David Rivers, Eric Nzeocha, Patrick 'Connor and Riley Bullough were joined by Buccaneers Cheerleaders and Captain Fear for an action-packed afternoon with children residing on the campus.
Metropolitan Ministries is a non-profit organization in the Bay area that focuses on self-sufficiency through transitional housing and support services to children and families while they get back on their feet. The Bucs have participated as guests of the Fall Festival for over 20 years.
"Today is one of the best days at Metropolitan Ministries and a long-standing tradition with the Buccaneers Rookie Class," said Tim Marks, President and CEO of Metropolitan Ministries. "Many of the stars throughout the history of the Bucs have come here and we're so grateful to have this year's class continue that tradition. They are bringing hope and joy to close to 250 children today."
The Rookie Club began the afternoon with a tour, led be Corporate Relations Coordinator, Julia, who is also a Team Captain for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders in her third season. "This event is really special to my heart because it's a way for me to unite two of my worlds." said Julia when speaking on the partnership. "This is something that the kids will talk about for the rest of the year and it is so important for them to have this opportunity and positive role models like the Buccaneers."
This afternoon was no ordinary day in the gym. As the tour concluded the players were greeted by welcoming cheers and excitement as they entered the new gymnasium equipped with a DJ and tons of interactive games. By the end of the festival, Captain Fear had a trail of kids following him, Stevie Tu'ikolovatu created a basketball hoop out of a hula hoop for a 1 on 1 session, and Bobo Wilson was leading a group art station.
Buccaneers Tight End, O.J. Howard was as inspired by the youth as they were by him. "Seeing the kids with all of the smiles on their face is very encouraging because they don't look at their situation the way most people do, they are just kids and they are enjoying themselves."
Throughout the year, the Buccaneers rookies are participating in a variety of outreach activities as members of the Buccaneers Rookie Club, the team's long-standing effort to engage its youngest players with the local community. This offseason, the rookies participated in a go-kart outing with Tampa Fire Rescue and met with military service members and their families during a tour of MacDill Air Force Base. Next week, the group will visit with patients and families at Moffitt Cancer Center. As the year progresses, the rookies will continue to participate in events that support active and retired military, inspire underprivileged youth, and promote healthy lifestyles for local children.
The Buccaneers Rookie Club is part of the Buccaneers far reaching commitment to improving Tampa communities. The Club encourages community outreach for the rookies, and it is evident, from their Metropolitan Ministries visit, how important community involvement has become to this year's group. For more information on the team's community initiatives, visit www.buccaneers.com/community.