Brooke Griese enjoyed painting faces, especially when she was able to work Brian's number 8 into the design
"High knees, high knees – keep them up!"
"On two, on two - hike!"
Soundtrack of a training camp? Usually, but on this Saturday there wasn't a Jon Gruden or Brian Griese to be found. Those two Tampa Bay Buccaneers were hard at work Saturday preparing for their game against the Chicago Bears, but it was their significant others who were running drills that morning.
The Buccaneers Women's Organization, a charitable group formed by wives, fiancées, girlfriends and daughters of Buccaneer players and coaches, held its fifth annual Fall Festival for children from local charities this past weekend. The Buccaneers Student Advisory Board was also on hand to help assist the Women's Organization members with the festivities.
Approximately 100 children from The Children's Home, Davis Elementary School, Florida Baptist Children's Home, Joshua House, Redlands Christian Migrant Association, and The Spring of Tampa Bay attended the event, which was held at Raymond James Stadium. Those in attendance tested their skills while running through the Gatorade Junior Training Camp, a series of non-contact drills that sharpen the youngsters agility and football skills. Women's Organization members offered encouragement and even a few pointers to participants.
Kids at the Festival also had fun with arts and crafts, took pictures with Captain Fear and saw the Buccaneer Cove pirate ship up close. The opportunity to play in Buccaneer Cove and on the field at Raymond James Stadium was an experience that the children will not soon forget.
While some Women's Organization members ran the football drills, others helped the children assemble Halloween-themed door knob hangers and picture frames. Brooke Griese used her artistic talents to entertain the kids in yet another way.
"Well today I had the great opportunity to paint faces," said an enthusiastic Griese. "It's been so much fun to sit down with the kids, get to know them a little bit and give them a little Halloween cheer. I even got to paint a number eight [Brian's number] on a couple faces, so that was exciting. The kids were great – you could tell that they really appreciated it. It was just great to give back to the community."
As the festivities started to wind down, the Women's Organization served a lunch of hot dogs, french fries, watermelon and cake to the children. Cindy Gruden, wife of Buccaneer Head Coach Jon Gruden, handed out prizes for the winners of the timed portion of the Gatorade Junior Training Camp. The prizes included Buccaneer footballs, t-shirts and duffel bags.
Every child in attendance received a gift bag containing candy, stickers, a Buccaneer pennant and a Jon Gruden card. It is safe to say that both the children and the Buccaneer women walked away from this year's Fall Festival with smiles on their faces.
"I believe in reaching out to the children," said Griese. "We need to give back to them as much as we can. If we can spend a couple hours on a Saturday bringing some joy to their lives, it's a very small thing to do that is good for the community."
Joining Mrs. Griese and Mrs. Gruden at the event were Kiersten Allen, Carol Brooks, Charlette Darby, Heidi Dilger, Laura Howell, Cathy Kelly, Barbara Muir, Damaris Quarles, Shelly Schroeder, Dara Spires, Terry Valero, Jennifer White, and Ellen Woods.