On Monday, the Glazer Family Foundation continued its tradition of supporting youth athletics with its annual contribution of $62,000 to the Tampa Bay Sports Commission (TBSC). On hand to accept the donation was TBSC's Executive Director, Rob Higgins, and a group of young athletes who benefit directly from the support of the Sports Commission and the Glazer Family Foundation, Paralympic Sport Tampa Bay (PSTB).
"We are so proud of these athletes," said Darcie Glazer Kassewitz, co-president of the Glazer Family Foundation. "Our family supports the Tampa Bay Sports Commission because we think it's important for all kids to get involved in sports."
Paralympic Sport Tampa Bay is just one of the many programs that receive support from the TBSC, and the Foundation was honored to host them at the Buccaneers' state-of-the-art headquarters for the check presentation.
The Sports Commission aims to attract, promote and organize major amateur sporting events and grassroots youth sports programs that foster the ongoing development and quality of life for the entire Tampa Bay area.
"The mission of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission is twofold," said Higgins. "We want to have both social and economic impacts. Youth and other sports organizations like Paralympic Sport Tampa Bay serve the social side, and on the economic side we try to impact the community by bringing major sporting events to the Tampa Bay area."
The Glazer Family Foundation has contributed almost $1 million to the TBSC, which has enabled thousands of youth athletes throughout the area to participate in sports, from football and basketball to track-and-field and, as demonstrated on Monday, the Paralympics.
"We are so fortunate to be part of this program," said Kassewitz. "One of the philosophies of our family is, 'You can do it.' We want them to know that if you put your mind to it, you can do it. We truly believe in these kids and it's so special to see them demonstrating our philosophy."
Youth sporting initiatives have served as an important part of the Glazer Family Foundation's efforts in the community, and Kassewitz said she was honored to meet athletes who excel in so many different areas.
"It is very rewarding to see all the sports these kids here are involved in," said Kassewitz. "These kids are super athletes and super sports stars and it's amazing to see."
Without the annual support of the Glazer Family Foundation, much of the work the TBSC does would not be possible.
"The number of opportunities that exist because of the Glazer Family Foundation is unbelievable," Higgins said. "The family has been so generous over the years, close to $1 million dollars over the years. We are very lucky to have a family like the Glazers here in Tampa that knows the true impact of youth sports and the benefits that come from supporting these initiatives."
Andy Chasanoff, Sports Coordinator for Paralympic Sport Tampa Bay, said the athletes were thrilled to take part in the check presentation and emphasized how important TBSC and Glazer Family Foundation support is for their organization.
Some of the funds provided by TBSC will allow Chasanoff and a group of athletes to travel to Saginaw, Michigan next month for the National Junior Disability Championships. The grants will help funding at every level, from the novice up to the top, including athletes hoping to compete in the Summer Paralympic Games in London in 2012.
On Monday, the relationships with the Sports Commission and the Glazer Family Foundation also resulted in a private lunch at the Buccaneers' headquarters and a memorable tour of the team's practice facility, an experience Paralympic Sport Tampa Bay won't soon forget.
"This is tremendous recognition for our program," he said. "These funds allow us to work with our athletes at every level. The support from the Glazer Family Foundation and TBSC allows us to continue year-round programming, and allows these athletes to be seen for their abilities and not their disabilities."