Found February 01, 2013 on Fox Sports Florida:
TAMPA, Fla. The bus pulled away from MacDill Air Force Base, and Vincent Jackson settled into his seat pleased. This moment began a time of giving back, of honoring military members and their families who offer so much of themselves, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Pro Bowl receiver wanted to frame the night the right way. Jackson looked ahead from his position in the middle of the bus, rush-hour traffic passing by. Everything about the gesture felt right. Two Air Force servicemen and their families, seven people total, joined him Friday evening in the Sun Sports Lightning Fan Express on the drive to Tampa Bay Times Forum, as part of an effort by the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Jackson in Action 83 Foundation to honor military families at the Lightning-Winnipeg Jets game. To him, this was fulfilling. "My foundation, Jackson in Action 83, is based on the military. That's what we do," said Jackson, who played in his third Pro Bowl last Sunday. "It's about the family. It's about deployment. Events like this this is exactly what we're all about. . I'm so happy to be in Tampa, man. It means a lot to me to really divulge myself in this community, especially with the military." Friday night presented another chance to do so. The event was quite the feat, considering that logistics were pieced together within the past week: Jackson provided tickets to about 2,000 military personnel from groups such as the MacDill Air Force Base 6th Air Mobility Wing, U.S. Central CommandSOCENT, U.S. Special Operations Command, USO, Army Reserve Medical Command and Support Our Troops. Superiors at MacDill Air Force Base chose the two servicemen who enjoyed the bus ride to Tampa Bay Times Forum, where a red-carpet entrance awaited them after the 10-mile trip. For Jackson, events like this are personal. He's the son of two military parents. His father, Terence, is a former 1st Sgt. in the medical field who spent 21 years in the Army. That lifestyle brought Jackson to places such as Louisiana and Arizona, Germany and Colorado. The eight-year NFL player learned to cope with deployment his father toured in Panama when Jackson was young and he discovered how hard the strain on families can be. "This is something that's home for me, being on these military bases and coming out to MacDill all the time, going to the military schools," said Jackson, wearing a blue No. 83 Lightning jersey. "This is what I grew up doing. These are people who I can relate with very easily. I know what they're going through. I think, sometimes, as much as we do appreciate the service they do over there as troops, sometimes their families get overlooked and the stresses and hardships that they go through when they have to be apart." The Jackson in Action 83 Foundation was created, in part, to ease those stresses. Incorporated in November 2012, its mission is to help deployed adults manage the challenges of long-distance parenting. It strives to be a comprehensive resource for military families facing deployment. In addition to Friday's event, the foundation has purchased tickets to Buccaneers games for military families. Jackson said he also hopes to work with the Tampa Bay Rays in the future. "The thing about this foundation that is fascinating is that Vincent is hands-on," said Gregg Williams, a spokesman for the Jackson in Action 83 Foundation. "This is something that is near and dear to his heart. His family served. When we started this foundation, he told me point-blank, I'm going to be involved. Keep me involved.'" The servicemen who arrived at Tampa Bay Times Forum on the bus appreciated the gesture. Soon after stepping off the red carpet, Corey Drouin, a senior airman with the 6th Maintenance Squadron, stood near his wife, Ashley, and smiled. "Oh, my God. It was awesome," he said. "Once-in-a-lifetime, definitely. Nervous, you know? (There was) Vincent Jackson and the whole red-carpet thing going off it." Nearby, Ryan Wheatley, a medic for the 6th Medical Group, waited with his family near an entrance eager to enjoy bonding time. Moments like this are rare. "The kids are smiling. The wife is smiling," said Wheatley, joined by his wife, Marcie, and kids, Lauren (16), Gwen (14) and Logan (12). "Everything is just great, because you don't get this everyday. And it's just so much fun." Yes, the night was about fun. But also something more: Reflection. "We have a platform here as professional athletes, and we have opportunities to do things like this," Jackson said. "I think more guys should take advantage of it. I think it's so important for the youth to understand it, as well as the professionals to understand it, that you should give back to your community, that you should be part of your community and just appreciate people from all walks of life." You can follow Andrew Astleford on Twitter @aastleford or email him at aastleford@gmail.com.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Bucs’ Vincent Jackson and the Lightning partner up for charity

It’s always good to see people helping people. Today. the Tampa Bay Lightning announced that they have teamed up with Bucs’ wide receiver Vincent Jackson and his Jackson in Action 83 Foundation to help military families and related charities in attending tonight’s game against the Jets. www.jacksoninaction83.org Jackson will provide tickets for tonight’s game to a number...

The Bucs are building a young team, what is their next piece? Mock Draft 1.0

The Bucs need to continue building for the future. Here is my first look at the NFL Draft.  There are a lot of teams that need quarterbacks this year.  The problem, there are not enough QB's in the draft. I expect to see teams trying to trade down, will they have any takers? 1. Chiefs - Bjoern Warner, DE, Florida State 2. Jaguars - Jarvis Jones...

Bucs relieve another coach of his duties

As the Bucs hire a coach, they fire another. It was reported late Wednesday by Tampa Bay Times Rick Stroud that the Buccaneers have fired their special teams coach.  Bucs have fired special teams coach Bob Ligashesky after one season. — Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) January 31, 2013 Ligashesky previously worked as special teams coach for Jacksonville (2004), St. Louis (2005-06), and...

Former Bucs DT Warren Sapp elected to Hall of Fame

Many speculated if former Buccaneers defensive tackle Warren Sapp would be elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Today, the speculation ends as Sapp has been voted into Canton. “This is a proud day for the Buccaneers organization and Bucs fans everywhere,” said Buccaneers Co-Chairman Bryan Glazer via the team’s press release. “Warren played the game with incredible...

Tampa Bay Buccaneers DT Warren Sapp to be inducted to Hall of Fame

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have only had one representative in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, DE Lee Roy Selmon. That representation is about to double. The inductees to the 2013 class were announced on Saturday night and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers DT Warren Sapp will be making the trip to Canton in his first year of eligibility. Sapp joined the Buccaneers in 1995. Tampa selected...

Doug Martin hates his 'Muscle Hamster' nickname

WDAE’s Steve Duemig sat down with Buccaneers RB Doug Martin on Radio Row Friday, reports Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com. While he doen'st mind, and even encourages the use of nicknames like “Dougernaut," “The Dougernator’’ or “Muscle and Hustle’’, he emphatically does NOT like the name "Muscle Hamster."

Report: Wannstedt hired as Buccaneers special teams coordinator

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hired Dave Wannstedt as their special teams coordinator Friday, according to ESPN, citing a league source. Wannstedt was the Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator for the past two seasons. Prior to that, Wannstedt was the head coach at the University of Pittsburgh coach for six years. He also ran the Panthers' special teams. Wannstedt is 82-87 over...

Eye Draft: Where Bucs fans can draft like a real general manager.

Bucs fans have given their mixed opinions on Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik for his draft selections. Players like Sammie Stroughter, Arrelious Benn, Josh Freeman, and Gerald McCoy have all been labeled “busts” by fans on several boards and radio shows at some point. So do you, the fan, feel you have what it takes to go pick by pick with Dominik?  Well, here is your...

Parcells, Sapp, Carter elected to Hall

Coach Bill Parcells, Warren Sapp, Cris Carter, Jonathan Ogden and Larry Allen were elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday. The class of 2013 also included a pair of senior selections, Curley Culp and Dave Robinson. The announcement was made in New Orleans, site of Sunday's Super Bowl. Five players failed to get in on the final vote: Jerome Bettis, Charles Haley...
NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.