The Jaguars Foundation's Sailors Aweigh program has a new name, "Honoring Our Troops," to reflect the expansion of the military ticket appreciation program to include the other local military branches and guard and reserve units that go on deployment.
Under the leadership of Delores Barr Weaver, team owner and Chair/CEO of the Jaguars Foundation, the program was begun by the Jaguars Foundation in partnership with the United States Navy and the Greater Jacksonville Area USO. The goal is to offer families of Navy sailors on deployment, recently back from deployment or readying for deployment, "family time" together at a Jaguars home game.
The decision to include other military families, according to John Shockley, Greater Jacksonville Area USO Executive Director, is because, in addition to the Navy, there are men and women from other military branches, guard and reserve units that are on deployment in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere in the world. Participating units include Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Naval Station Mayport, Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, U.S. Marines Blount Island, Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville, Camp Blanding, 125th Fighter Wing and various other guard and reserve units.
Mrs. Weaver has served on the USO Board of Directors and she and Wayne Weaver are strong supporters of the men and women in the Armed Services and their families in the greater Jacksonville area. "We wanted to provide an opportunity for these families, who also make a sacrifice when their loved ones head out on deployment, to have an enjoyable football game-day experience," said Mrs. Weaver. "Children of course miss their mom or dad on deployment. While we can't bring them back any sooner, we can show the children that we recognize the sacrifice their parent is making and that they as a military and guard family are making on behalf of our nation."
Mr. Shockley stated, "The opportunity for a family to spend time together and do something fun by going to a Jaguars game is immeasurable in terms of what it means to these families. We thank the Jaguars Foundation and the team, most especially Delores and Wayne Weaver, for their unwavering support to our Armed Services men and women and their families."
At each afternoon Jaguars home game, up to 125 game day tickets are donated to the USO for the Honoring Our Troops program. Each child and accompanying adult receives a game-day ticket, an "Honoring Our Troops" t-shirt and complimentary bus transportation to and from the game. Each child also receives Jag Dollars valued at $10 to spend on food or souvenirs.
The availability of the Jag Dollars initially came about from a donation of the widow of a serviceman who died at the Pentagon in the 9/11/01 terrorist attack. The widow, who asked to remain anonymous, said that she and her husband and their family lived in various parts of the country, but nowhere where they lived had a professional sports team that treated the military and their families as well as the Jaguars did, and they continued to be Jaguars fans after re-assignment away from Jacksonville. Adding to this contribution, donations made by Randy and Jackie Amos and their family and friends, in memory of their son Scott Amos who died in a tragic accident, and from the Weaver Family Foundation have continued this element of the program.
About the USO
The Greater Jacksonville Area USO was established in 1979 and serves over 250,000 local military members and their families from three USO Centers located in Duval County. A qualified 501 C3 non-profit, Greater Jacksonville Area USO is an independent, non-government, chartered organization of USO Headquarters. We receive limited funding from the City of Jacksonville and United Way of Northeast Florida and Saint John's County. We provide a wide range of services for military members and their families and rely on the generosity of local businesses and private donors to fulfill our mission. Please visit www.jaxuso.org for more information.
About the Jaguars Foundation
*Believing that youth represent the community's future, the Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation is committed to serving the greater Jacksonville area through strategic financial, networking and volunteer support benefiting economically and socially disadvantaged youth and families. By building upon our city's strengths, we seek to realize the positive potential of our young people in need. In doing so, we aim to serve as a model to other sports franchises. The Foundation has awarded more than $13.6 million dollars in grants since 1995 to nonprofits serving youth and families. *