Community Quarterback winner Kaye Blanton McConnell accepts a donation to the Drug Prevention Resource Center from presenter Shaun King
In the game of football, the quarterback is the catalyst for the offense. There are quarterbacks in the community, as well, catalysts who make our neighborhoods better places to live.
On Thursday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers honored such difference-makers at their Community Quarterback Awards banquet at Raymond James Stadium. The Community Quarterback Awards honor volunteers who make a positive impact on the lives of those less fortunate.
At the event, Buccaneers quarterback Shaun King gave a brief speech to the assembled finalists and helped present the award plaques to the winners. All 10 finalists received $1,000 grants, the two runners-up received an additional $2,500 grant and the overall winner received an extra $10,000 grant for her charity.
The community-minded exploits of all 10 finalists were detailed in short biographies, read to the crowd as excitement built over the announcement of the winners.
Winning the runner-up prizes were Charles Nist of MADD of Hillsborough County and Amy & Jim Shimberg of Meals on Wheels of Tampa.
And the winner of the top prize was Kaye Blanton McConnell of the Drug Prevention Resource Center.
In 1985, Kaye established the Drug Prevention Resource Center to help provide drug prevention, education and treatment to the children, youth and adults in Polk, Hardee and Highlands County. Throughout her years with the Drug Prevention Resource Center, Kaye has developed numerous collaborative relationships with schools and local governments, and has also been a major contributor to the development of the educational programming that the Center provides.
Kaye's selection as the Buccaneers' 2002 Community Quarterback makes her eligible for the national Community Quarterback Award, which the NFL will name in late December. NFL Charities will donate $25,000 to the organization where the national winner volunteers.
"I'm just overwhelmed," said McConnell. "This was such an awesome group to be a part of and I thought that everyone here was deserving. I just can't tell you how much this means to our organization. This will help us so much."