Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Weighing In

In recent days, half a dozen Buccaneer players helped fight hunger and breast cancer at a pair of charitable events

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WR Keenan McCardell, who has his own foundation to fight cancer, attended a recent event to promote the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure

In this corner, Cosey Coleman and Kenyatta Walker weighing in at 307 and 312 pounds, respectively. In this corner, Mike Alstott and John Lynch, a tag-team pair of 247-pounders.

That might sound like the setup for a grand NFL-WWE crossover match, but it is, instead, the result of a unique charitable event conducted Tuesday afternoon at One Buccaneer Place.

This quartet of Tampa Bay Buccaneers was chosen to step, one at a time, onto a giant soup-spoon scale that had been set up at team headquarters by Campbell's Chunky Soup. On the other side of the scale, as many cans of soup as it took to balance out the players' weight. Campbell's then pledged to donate 10 times those players' combined weight in cans to two local charitable organizations, Metropolitan Ministries and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.

As an added bonus, members of the local media who were on hand for Tuesday's practice also weighed in, producing additional Campbell's donations..

Campbell's Chunky Soup conducts annual "weigh-ins" in NFL cities nationwide as part of its Tackling Hunger program. The goal of the program is to donate more than 6 million cans of soup to food banks nationwide by Super Bowl XXXVIII.

"I think it's a great thing that Chunky soup is doing, Tackling Hunger," said Lynch, whose weight will result in 2,470 pounds of donated food. "Unfortunately, there's a lot of people in this country that aren't as fortunate as a lot of us. Chunky Soup is doing its part in tackling hunger and it was a lot of fun to be a part of it."

The combined weight of the four Bucs initially was good for 11,130 cans, but that total got a last-minute spike when Head Coach Jon Gruden ambled over to the giant spoon and decided throw his weight into "Tackling Hunger". Gruden tipped the scales at 235 pounds. If that sounds like quite a bit more than the svelte coach actually weighs, credit some creative weighing procedures by the Chunky Soup staffers and some imaginative positioning by Coach Gruden on the spoon. Nobody complained.

Gruden's additional 235 pounds raised the Bucs' total to 13,480 cans, helping to provide some much-needed nourishment to many of Florida's less fortunate families.

"This will help provide needy families with the food they need," said Metropolitan Ministries Coordinator of Community Relations Lesa Weikel. "We've had a 25% increase in the number of families this year, so this will definitely help feed the more than 50,000 hungry people we have in Hillsborough County alone."


Race for the Cure

Late last week, Buccaneer receivers Joe Jurevicius and Keenan McCardell also lent their support to a worthy cause. Jurevicius and McCardell attended an event called 'Pink Martinis at the Blue Martini,' a kickoff party for the 2003 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

Thursday's event got its whimsical name from the pink ribbons worn to promote breast cancer awareness and the site of the party, the Blue Martini at International Plaza. 'Pink Martinis' was designed to raise both awareness and funds for the Komen Race for the Cure event, which itself raises money to eradicate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease by advancing research, education, screening and treatment.

Jurevicius and McCardell attended the event as celebrity guests but they are also men affected by breast cancer. Both receivers have had family members stricken by a disease that affects one in every eight women.

"My cousin had breast cancer and I've seen what it can do," said McCardell. "I'm here to help support the Race for the Cure and raise money to help find a cure for this disease."

McCardell has more than a passing interest in finding a cure, having created the Touching Hands Foundation in 1998 with the goal of reducing cancer risks. The foundation hopes to accomplish this by supporting outreach programs that promote early detection and healthier lifestyles in diverse and underserved communities.

The Pink Martini event also featured a silent auction with items such as a 45-minute massage, autographed merchandise from players for the Buccaneers, Devil Rays and Lightning, a Martini mix set and a round of golf at Saddlebrook.

The Buccaneers mingled in the crowd and signed autographs while the auction was staged and a live band played.

"It's unbelievable that everybody is here to show that they care," said Jurevicius. "They want to help find a cure for cancer. This hits home with me specifically because I lost an aunt and a great friend of our family to breast and ovarian cancer. Any time you can get out and raise awareness and show people how important it is to find a cure it means a lot.

"I have a mom, I have a wife, I have a sister and god forbid something like this would happen to them. So, if I can get out here and raise awareness, who knows maybe all the money we raise right now might one day help find a cure."

Sherry Brewer, the race chair, appreciated the support of the Buccaneer players and looked forward to seeing some of the Buccaneers cheerleaders and Women's Organization members at the race.

"The Bucs are a name draw," said Brewer. "People will come anyway, but it's an extra incentive for them to come out and support the cause."

This year's Race for the Cure will be held on September 20. For more information on how you can participate, please visit komensuncoast.com or call 727-734-7832.

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