Since 1999, pediatric patients admitted to eight local children's hospitals have received a welcome surprise thanks to the Glazer Family Foundation. Through the Foundation's "Cheering You On!" program, brand new Tampa Bay Buccaneers teddy bears have been donated to children battling injury and illness, bringing a bit of cheer to an otherwise uneasy experience.
At Shriners Hospitals for Children-Tampa on Tuesday, that "Buccaneers surprise" came with an added bonus: defensive end Adrian Clayborn, accompanied by Buccaneers Cheerleaders Kasey and Tricia, stopping by to deliver the teddy bears in person.
"It means a lot to the hospital to have the recognition, but the children absolutely go gaga over it," said Danny Griner, assistant director of orthotics and prosthetics. "As a season ticket holder myself, I'm pretty thrilled myself. It's a good thing for everyone."
The Buccaneer guests, who spent over two hours also signing autographs, taking photos and visiting with the patients, not only made room visits but toured the hospital's prosthetics wing to learn more about that unique type of care required to support children in need.
"You just never know how much goes into it," said Clayborn. "You don't think about how customized it has to be for each kid, so it's pretty cool to learn about. You just think that you grab one off of the shelf and put it on a kid, but it's really more complex than that."
The program, which supports children's hospitals throughout Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Orlando, has distributed nearly 450,000 Buccaneers teddy bears to pediatric patients.
For Clayborn, the decision to help deliver teddy bears was an easy one.
"It's always fun coming to see kids," said Clayborn. "I like coming to see kids and just try to brighten their day when they're in a tough situation like that. It does more for us I think than it does for them because it puts things into perspective of how hard life is for some kids and stuff like that. So it's always fun."