On Saturday, August 2, 31,000 students and parents arrived at Raymond James Stadium for the 2nd Annual Back to School Bash— made possible by Tampa Bay Buccaneers, The Bullard Family Foundation, Walmart and Advent Health, in addition, more than 50 community partners: 95.7 The Beat, Frontier Communications, Tampa Fire Rescue, Metropolitan Ministries, plus hundreds of volunteers came out to kick-off the 2019-2020 school year.
“I was given the opportunity to live a better life and I want the same opportunity to be displayed with other people,” said Thaddeus Bullard, otherwise known as WWE Superstar Titus O’Neil and founder of The Bullard Family Foundation and Back to School Bash.
Some families woke up before the sun came up, to be first in line by 6 a.m. to ensure their children received free sport and school entry physicals and adults received free health screening, provided by Advent Health. The Glazer Family Foundation mobile clinic was also in full force, offering free eye exams and provided glasses on the spot! Children will also enter the school year with a bright smile on their face thanks to dental cleanings that were available.
“This type of event is at the very heart of what we do. We believe in caring for people beyond when they are sick, we want to be a part of the community—this gives us a great opportunity to extend our mission beyond the walls of our hospital,” said Lauren Key, Senior Executive Officer of Consumer Strategy at Advent Health.
At this free event, 15,000 backpacks were filled with school supplies and handed out to students. The Hillsborough Education Foundation passed out 1,500 backpacks to youth football players and cheerleaders who took the field to particiate in football games on a real NFL field.
“This is awesome! A free backpack is awesome— I’ve been wanting one, and I am going to get a physical and they are going to check my eyes," said an enthusiastic Isiah, a 5th grader at Mintz Elementary.
Jeff Gigante with Ciccio Restaurant Group, served up free food for families and volunteers all day long, and our own Erwin Technical College students provided kids with haircuts to help make them feel confident and ready to see their friends at school next week.
“This event helps me because I don’t work a lot of hours, I’m part time," said Shaquanda, a proud mother of a Hillsborough County Public Schools student.
“This is really what it is all about—making sure that every single one of our students comes to school on the first day, not only ready to learn, but with all the supplies and resources to be successful,” said Superintendent Jeff Eakins.
During the event, more than 200 teachers took the field for a teacher pep rally, where they heard from Mayor Castor, Superintendent Eakins, Sheriff Chronister, Chief Dugan, Brian Ford with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Thaddeus Bullard. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers also provided free vouchures for teachers to enjoy the preseason game when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the Miami Dolphins.
“We climb together in Hillsborough County Public Schools because of the incredible community partners that we have, and who’s doing the work every day? Our incredible teachers— that’s where all the magic happens. This is how people step up to support you all for doing the work out there,” said Eakins.
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