Created through a partnership with Raymond James, the annual Kicking for Kids program is in its 19th season. Each year, Raymond James pledges $1,000 per Buccaneers' field goal scored, with each year's grand total going toward funding local children's hospitals. That number amounted to $21,000 this year and has accumulated to $368,500 since the inception of the initiative.
The man responsible for making some of those kicks in 2018 was Cairo Santos, who spoke to families brought in by this year's three benefitting hospitals on Monday afternoon. Groups from Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital, St. Joseph's Children's Hospital and Arnold Palmer Hospital in Orlando were invited to AdventHealth Training Center for the check presentation, a tour of the facility and milk and cookies in the players' dining room. Santos was all smiles as he posed for photos and enjoyed snacks along with the kids, knowing that just doing his job this season extended beyond the field or the scoreboard.
"Obviously, I'm wanting to make the kicks and help the team win but also I'm doing it to help the kids go through their battles as well," Santos said. "You see their smiles and you know they're going through a lot tougher days than we are. It's a different perspective on life and it motivates you to grind a little harder, not only for yourself, but to make more money for these kids."
The program first started when Martin Gramatica was the kicker for the Buccaneers in 2000 and has continued as part of the Bucs' long-standing partnership with Raymond James. The agreement extends well beyond naming rights to the stadium and is another avenue for Raymond James to make sure they're active in the community, as well.
"I remember when the program started, I think the contribution per kick has doubled since that time and the amount of hospitals we've been able to help has increased," Raymond James Senior Vice President of Sponsorships Tracey Bustamante said. "We're pretty proud of the $368,500 over the course of the program and we're lucky to work for a company that really cares about the community and allows us to have these opportunities, too."