For almost as long as he can remember, Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has worn glasses. To this day, he continues to wear them almost wherever he goes, proudly defying a stereotype that many young students battle while trying to look "cool" in school.
"I know as a kid it was always difficult to wear glasses, because when you try to be popular, or try to fit in, everybody says you're nerdy for wearing glasses," McCoy said. "Look, I do what I do and I wear glasses all the time. Do you still think I'm nerdy?"
On Tuesday, McCoy shared that message at James Elementary School in Tampa, where 80 students received prescription eyeglasses thanks to the Glazer Family Foundation Vision Program.
Glazer Family Foundation Co-President Darcie Glazer Kassewitz, along with McCoy, cornerback LeQuan Lewis and Buccaneers cheerleaders Cassie and Sydney, presented new prescription eyeglasses to children who had previously had their eyes screened and were deemed in need of glasses by the Glazer Family Foundation Vision Mobile.
The Buccaneers contingent – all of whom wear glasses – were welcomed by Principal Patricia Royal, who was grateful to the Buccaneers and the Glazer Family Foundation for their generosity and investment in children's health and education.
"I want to send a huge thank you, just like the children, to the Glazer Family Foundation for remembering the children in the community," Royal said.
After eyeglasses were distributed to the students, McCoy instructed the children to all put their glasses on at the same time, to share the experience of clearer eyesight together. The young crowd reacted excitedly to the wonder of suddenly improved vision, and then McCoy explained some of the long-term benefits of wearing glasses.
"Do you know what else my glasses helped me do?" McCoy asked the students. "They helped me graduate college."
Following McCoy's message on eyesight, Glazer Kassewitz spoke to the students about working hard both in and out of the classroom, reinforcing the importance of following one's dreams.
"Don't ever give up," said Glazer Kassewitz, who shared the story of how basketball legend Michael Jordan was originally cut from his high school basketball team and went on to become arguably the greatest NBA player ever.
The Glazer Family Foundation Vision Mobile is the signature component of the Glazer Family Foundation's Vision Program, a health initiative to provide local schoolchildren with an opportunity to have vision problems identified and corrected. This winter, the Glazer Family Foundation Vision Mobile is visiting 12 Title I schools throughout Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties to provide free vision screenings and prescription glasses to students in need. The Glazer Family Foundation Vision Mobile can also be spotted at each Tampa Bay Buccaneers home game, right next to the South Plaza outside the stadium.
To learn more about the Glazer Family Foundation Vision Program, click here.