This week, for the third time during the 2012 season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Hess promoted health and education among local students through the "Gridiron Giveback" program.
On Tuesday, a large contingent of Buccaneers traveled to Mort Elementary School, the latest recipient of a Buccaneers Fitness Zone. The Fitness Zone is a sail-style covered canopy designed to protect children from extreme heat and direct sunlight so that they may play outside in a safer environment.
Buccaneer players Roger Allen, E.J. Biggers, Demar Dotson, Erik Lorig, Chris Owusu and Keith Tandy, along with Buccaneers Cheerleaders and team mascot Captain Fear, were welcomed to the school by Principal Woodland Johnson. Johnson expressed his gratitude to the Buccaneers and Hess for their desire to promote the importance of education, nutrition and safe exercise.
"We are so proud of the Bucs and what they are doing with schools – it's tremendous," Johnson said. "It's a dream come true."
After participating in football drills that included taking handoffs from Lorig, escaping blocks by Dotson, and doing a touchdown dance with Biggers, all of the students huddled up and broke down a "Go Bucs" cheer with Owusu.
The opportunity to make a difference in the lives of youth is something Owusu fully embraces. "It's awesome, that's what we really take pride in," Owusu said. "It's not only about our performance on the field but our performance off the field."
For Mort student Trevor Raimondi, learning from the players about proper diet and how to stay in good shape was a memorable and rewarding experience.
"We talked about how eating healthy and nutrition will make you big and strong like them," Raimondi said.
This season, the Buccaneers and Hess are making a donation to five local schools, totaling $175,000.* *The money is being used to fund brand new Buccaneers Fitness Zones and educational projects, providing much-needed upgrades to their athletic and academic facilities. Each school is receiving a Buccaneers Fitness Zone, $5,000 in new athletic equipment, and a $3,000 volunteer project from the Buccaneers and Hess.