The Jacksonville Jaguars, the Jaguars Foundation and the Weaver Family Foundation were active and productive once again in 1999 in responding to needs in and around the Jacksonville community. In the six years since these organizations came to Jacksonville, each has made significant contributions locally through donations, grants, in-kind support and numerous programs designed to specifically address the needs of First Coast residents. And in the new millennium, the Jaguars, the Jaguars Foundation and the Weaver Family Foundation continue to make an impact.
In 1999 alone, more than 2,000 organizations - including charities, non-profits, schools, churches and civic groups - were assisted by the Jaguars' community relations department through personal appearances or donations. More than 1,150 autographed items were donated to assist in fund-raising events, and nearly 900 personal appearances were made by Jaguars players, staff, cheerleaders and mascot.
Since its first grants in March of 1995, the Jaguars Foundation has awarded strategic grants totaling approximately $2.7 million throughout the Jacksonville area to programs designed to assist disadvantaged youth. Last year the Jaguars Foundation provided more than $1,060,000 in grant allocations to area nonprofit organizations, in addition to more than $420,000 in value including about 12,000 tickets to Jaguars home games through the Honor Rows program and other youth programs. The Honor Rows program alone provided more than 4,000 seats, which were earned by youth through more than 40 local nonprofit agencies. These are only part of the Foundation's mission, which is aimed at assisting socially and economically disadvantaged youth in the greater Jacksonville area.
Through the Foundation's establishment of the Nike/Jaguars Foundation Community Scholars Program, full college tuition scholarships have been awarded to selected Honor Rows participants. This has grown into a $500,000 program with matching funds from the State of Florida, and involves mentor assistance from honors students at the University of North Florida.
The Foundation has also assisted established programs in the community, and has served to distribute in-kind support items which are donated, such as used bicycles, clothing, computers, office equipment, and even school playground equipment.
Partnering with the nation's largest health care philanthropy, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Jaguars Foundation has established an aggressive campaign to reduce use of tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs by youth. Included in this campaign are public service announcements featuring active Jaguars players, sending the message that smoking is neither "cool" nor conducive to athletic performance.
Through the Weaver Family Foundation, Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver have supported many local agencies and initiatives. Since 1995 they have made contributions to Jacksonville organizations totaling more than $2.5 million. In addition, the Weavers have committed $1 million to The United Way of Northeast Florida over the next five years.
Delores Barr Weaver, Owner/Partner of the Jaguars and Chair and CEO of the Jaguars Foundation, organized a golf tournament in 1996, along with WJXT-TV 4 sports director Sam Kouvaris, to benefit HabiJax, the local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity. The proceeds from this annual tournament have been used to build a total of 13 houses in the Jacksonville area, which represents a contribution of $400,000 since the first tournament in 1996.
In addition to the Jaguars' work, that of the Jaguars Foundation and the Weavers, tremendous social impact has been made by foundations established by Jaguars head coach Tom Coughlin and several players. The Jay Fund, established by Coughlin in 1995, assists local youth and their families who are affected by leukemia. A net total of more than $430,000 has been raised through The Jay Fund Celebrity Golf Classic, with those funds going directly to aid local families and to provide research in the area of pediatric leukemia.
Quarterback Mark Brunell's charity golf tournament, begun in 1997, has donated more than $390,000 to Wolfson Children's Hospital, specifically to benefit children receiving pediatric and neonatal intensive care. Offensive tackle Tony Boselli's foundation has several programs, including Shop With a Jock, Most Valuable Teacher Award, and Score for Scholarships as well as a celebrity golf tournament which has netted more than $170,000 to fund foundation programs. Boselli and his wife Angi have also made a commitment to fund an athletic program for Safe Harbor Boys Home, a Christian group home in Jacksonville for boys ages 15 to 18.
Offensive tackle Leon Searcy's Team Searcy Foundation benefits physically challenged and underpriviledged youth in Jacksonville and in his hometown of Orlando. Wide receiver Keenan McCardell's Touching Hands Foundation supports, among other programs, breast cancer research at Baptist Regional Cancer Institute, which has received nearly $20,000 directly from McCardell the past two seasons based on his reception and touchdown totals. Leah Barker, wife of punter Bryan Barker, established the Let us Play Foundation and the Let us Play Sports Camp for Girls, which has become a model camp to encourage inner-city girls through sports and education.
Defensive end Joel Smeenge established the Lorenz-Smeenge Foundation in 1998 to assist children suffering from pediatric facial disorders. Wide receiver Jimmy Smith is active with asthma education programs through the American Lung Association and Wolfson Children's Hospital. Smith has donated more than $26,000 to the hospital the past two seasons based on his receptions and touchdowns.
McCardell (Juvenile Diabetes, Wolfson Children's Hospital) and Searcy (Diabetes Education at Baptist-St. Vincent's, and National Kidney Foundation) are active with other programs in addition to the work of their own foundations.
Wide receiver Reggie Barlow (Cystic Fibrosis), cornerback Aaron Beasley (Clara White Mission), safety Donovin Darius (Communities in Schools), tight end Rich Griffith (Boy Scouts of America, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Muscular Dystrophy Association), placekicker Mike Hollis (American Cancer Society), tight end Damon Jones (Spina Bifida Association) and running back Fred Taylor (Jacksonville Housing Partnership) are some of the other Jaguars players actively involved in community awareness programs and fund-raising.
All of the programs described here, and all of the money raised and donated, has taken place in the six years since the Jaguars came to Jacksonville. When the team was awarded on November 30, 1993, Wayne and Delores Weaver vowed to repay the commitment made by the citizens of Jacksonville. These direct benefits to the Jacksonville community are living proof that the Jaguars are delivering on that promise.