For the fourth time this season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Hess combined forces this week to promote health and education through the "Gridiron Giveback" program.
On Tuesday, a group of Buccaneers visited Sulphur Springs Elementary School, the latest recipient of a Buccaneers Fitness Zone. The Fitness Zone features 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.
Tampa Bay players Lavonte David, Mason Foster, Gary Gibson, Danny Noble and Dekoda Watson, along with Buccaneers Cheerleaders and team mascot Captain Fear, were greeted at Sulphur Springs by school board chairwoman Doretha Edgecomb. Edgecomb enthusiastically welcomed the Buccaneers players and reminded the children that the day provided an important lesson in giving back to the community.
"Remember this day as a lesson as to how important it is to give to others," Edgecomb told the assembled students.
The students took full advantage of the renovated play space, engaging in football drills with their Buccaneers guests. While Gibson tested out his quarterback skills with a some enthusiastic young receivers, another group of budding running backs attempted to escape a tackle by Foster en route to an end zone dance with David. Watson, who has participated in every Buccaneers Fitness Zone dedication event this fall, huddled up each group for a "Go Bucs" cheer before rotating to a new drill.
For Gibson, the morning event was a chance to teach students the fundamentals of football and even pass on a few dance moves.
"We had them work on their catching skills and their agility," Gibson said. "They even showed us a little dance at the end, which was funny."
The opportunity to make a difference in the community is something Watson fully embraces.
"It's always a blessing to give back to the community and spread a little cheer," Watson said. "These kids really motivate me to do better and do more."
This season, the Buccaneers and Hess are making donations to five local schools worth a total of $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.