The Glazer Family Foundation's Vision Program is the gift that keeps on giving.
On Friday, the Foundation and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took another step in the important and ongoing work of the Vision Program. The initiative, which has had a lasting impact in the community since it was first established in 2006, seeks to improve the eyesight of underprivileged children throughout the Tampa Bay area by providing free eye examinations and prescription glasses.
Glazer Family Foundation representatives had plenty of help on Friday, as Buccaneers linebacker Najee Goode, defensive back Keith Tandy, cheerleader Kara and team mascot Captain Fear took part in the visit to Fairmont Park Elementary School in St. Petersburg. There, the group delivered prescription glasses to more than 50 students in need. The Buccaneers presented the new eyewear to children who had previously had their eyes screened and were deemed in need of glasses by further vision tests on the Glazer Family Foundation Vision Mobile.
"When we saw how many kids didn't pass the screening, that was a little unnerving to us – that we weren't even aware that the children were having difficulties with their vision," said Fairmont Park Elementary School Principal Cooper Dawson. "So today was just a culmination of, 'Wow, finally they will be able to see and go from there.'"
The delivery of the glasses was the third step in the Foundation's Vision Program efforts at Fairmont Park, where the Vision Mobile stopped earlier this month to conduct further vision exams and fit students for glasses. During Friday's visit, Goode and Tandy spoke to the students about the importance of wearing the glasses to help improve their eyesight.
"It's fun to come to an event just to inspire the kids to do little things, as far as taking care of their glasses," said Goode. "Getting something like that from professional athletes such as ourselves is great. Vision is one of the most important things; it's one of your five senses."
Added Tandy: "A lot of kids think glasses aren't cool, but just showing what glasses can do for you and coming to help out is huge. I know when I was younger, any time the high school kids came around and said something to me, it made a big difference in my life. Hopefully, we can change some of the kids' lives here."
Since the launch of the Glazer Family Foundation Vision Program, thousands of local youths have been provided this much-needed service , which not only detects but also helps correct serious vision problems in those who might not otherwise be able to afford such care. On Friday, the impact was felt firsthand by dozens of students in St. Petersburg.
"It's exciting and it is a privilege," said Dawson. "I was tearing up when the kids got the glasses and the one girl said, 'I can see!' and the other one says, 'I know, right?' I thought, 'This is just amazing.' You wonder how long they would have gone without being able to see and the impact that that could have on their progress, reading, math and everything else. It's exciting and it's a blessing."