From its role in opening Tampa's marvelous new children's museum to its ongoing outreach to hospitalized children; from its many-layered efforts to improve Bay area education to its expanding program to address youth vision problems; from its gameday initiatives to its biannual grants, the Glazer Family Foundation had a hugely impactful year in 2010.
On Thursday evening, the Foundation was recognized for all that it did last year at the Inaugural Tampa Bay Sneaker Soiree, which was organized in order to celebrate excellence in sports business. One way in which the event recognized achievements in the Bay area sports world was through a series of awards honoring local teams, players and specific events.
The Glazer Family Foundation was named the "Foundation of the Year" from among a field of nominees that were non-active professional players and/or community foundations with efforts focused in Tampa Bay. While GFF has been serving the Bay area community in countless ways since 1999, it had a particularly memorable 2010 thanks to the opening in September of the 53,000-square-foot Glazer Children's Museum in downtown Tampa.
In addition, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were honored for the "Individual Game Promotion of the Year for their September 12 "Military Appreciation/Season Opener: Soldier Reunion" event and Buccaneers center Jeff Faine was named the "Entrepreneurial Player of the Year."
Buccaneers Co-Chairman Bryan Glazer was on hand at the Sneaker Soiree to accept the Foundation and Promotion awards on behalf of the Glazer Family Foundation and the team. Faine attended the event to accept his award in person.
The Glazer Children's Museum opened its doors on September 25 after 18 months of construction and years of planning. Bringing interactive, world-class facility to Tampa was a labor of love for the Glazer family, among others, and the project began with the Foundation's signature donation of $5,000,000. In just its first six months of operation, the museum welcomed more than 130,000 visitors, all of whom discovered hundreds of exhibits, games and activities to challenge children of all ages. It is the mission of the Glazer Children's Museum to help visitors learn about themselves, each other and the world around them through exploration and discovery.
In addition to the much-anticipated opening of the museum, the Glazer Family Foundation had plenty of other accomplishments to celebrate in 2010, as it continued to expand its far-reaching programs. For instance, the Vision Mobile, which was first introduced in 2009, continued to increase its reach within the Foundation's comprehensive vision program. It is the goal of this program to provide vision screening and correction to every grade school student in the eight surrounding county school systems. As it made its rounds to Title 1 schools in 2010, the Vision Mobile provided free comprehensive exams and prescription glasses to more than 1,500 children in need.
Good eyesight promotes educational achievement, as do several of the Foundation's other programs. Those currently include Buc-Packs for Back-to-School and Make Reading Your Goal. The former provides students with the materials they need to keep pace in school; the latter provides incentives to encourage youth to read more.
The Foundation's Gameday for Kids program also sets up incentives for youth at risk by providing local organizations with tickets to Buccaneers home games. In addition, a series of gameday collection drives annually works with nonprofit organizations to amass important items for distribution to those in need. Among the items collected at various drives in 2010 were food, school supplies, toys and pet supplies.
One of the Foundation's longest-running programs is "Cheering You On!" which seeks to make a hospital stay less frightening and more comfortable for ailing children. As it continues to provide a teddy bear and an activity book to every child admitted to eight different hospitals covering the Bay area, GFF has to date donated more than 400,000 bears.
The Glazer Family Foundation intends to continue to make an impact on Central Florida through these programs and others. The "Foundation of the Year" award was a humbling bit of recognition for its efforts in 2010, but the Foundation is currently working to make 2011 an even better year.
The Buccaneers certainly had an impact on the lives of one local family during their award winning Military Appreciation event at their 2010 season opener.
The Bucs annually devote one of their games to recognizing and honoring the service provided by the men and women of the U.S. military. In 2010, that event coincided with the team's thrilling 17-14 victory over Cleveland at Raymond James Stadium on September 12. The highlight of the team's efforts to show its appreciation was a surprise reunion organized for the Riley family.
With her husband, U.S. Army Sgt. Daniel Riley serving his second tour of duty and his first overseas, Tonya Riley was invited to attend the game along with the couple's three sons, Justin (11), Brandon (10) and Kevin (8). The family had been told to pay special attention to the BucVision videoboards at the two-minute warning in the first half, as Sgt. Riley had taped a greeting to be shown to the crowd at that point. Tonya and her boys were looking forward to any glimpse of their husband and father, as his scheduled leave had been postponed two weeks earlier; as it turned out, the taped greeting was only the beginning.
As Riley's segment ended, the videoboard switched to a live shot of the sergeant descending the stadium steps in section 121 to where his shocked family was seated. The emotional reunion elicited a standing ovation from an appreciative crowd as well as chants of "U-S-A."
Faine is an accomplished businessman who launched The Faine Group in 2009 to oversee his various business interests and charitable endeavors. Those business ventures include real estate investment, oil drilling and exploration, restaurants and nightclubs, a business ad network website and clothing stores located in six states.
The "Entrepreneurial Player of the Year" award was designed to recognize success in off-the-field business ventures among current active professional athletes in the Bay area. That recognition extends to work done in the community, and Faine has been quite busy in that regard, as well. He launched The Faine Family Foundation and partnered with the Children's Home Society as the foundation's main beneficiary. Together, they launched The Faine House, a transitional living home for children aging out of foster care into young adulthood.