JACKSONVILLE – It was a party for a day, but the true impact happens throughout the year.
The Jaguars Foundation held the third annual grant celebration party at EverBank Field Tuesday afternoon, inviting more than 400 children from local youth agencies to a pizza and ice cream party to celebrate over $1.5 million in grants donated to agencies in the Jacksonville area.
Foundation president Peter Racine said that the event highlights what happens on a year-round basis.
"We give grants all during the year, but it's just taking a moment to thank the agencies we work with and also just give thanksgiving to the community," Racine said. "This is the holiday season, but it's really year round."
The agencies that the Foundation assists are spread well outside of Jacksonville.
"We're over 100 programs we are affecting," Racine said. "We've got 3,000 kids in our middle schools that we're working with, our sixth grade, for our Play60 programs and those schools are all getting grants. We've got the Boys and Girls Clubs.
"From South Georgia all the way through Flagler County we have programs we are supporting, which is really cool."
Jaguars mascot Jaxson de Ville and Jaguars players Bradie Ewing, Rashaad Reynolds, Jeremy Harris and Tony Washington attended the event to interact with children.
In the midst of the holiday season, the Jaguars Foundation also has plans in the coming weeks to give out 1,400 food baskets to local families that could go without Christmas dinner.
Zane Beadles Parade Foundation visits UF Health Proton Therapy patients
The Zane Beadles Parade Foundation held a holiday party for children undergoing cancer treatments at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute.
Jaguars offensive linemen Zane Beadles and Tyler Shatley interacted with children and families at the facility.
"This is my favorite part of doing stuff in the community and trying to give back is actually getting out and interacting with people," Beadles said. "The fundraising and all that other stuff is kind of a necessity, but this is the fun part of things."
UF Health Proton Therapy Institute executive director Stuart Klein said that an event brightens the kids' day, especially when treatment can be difficult.
"These kids are here from six-to-eight weeks, and they're pretty much put through the mill," Klein said. "It's really an opportunity for them to do something fun and we try to make it entertaining while they are here in town."
Beadles and Shatley signed autographs on mini footballs and also handed out plush elephants, the emblem of the Parade Foundation, which represents good luck, protection, inspiration, power and strength.
The players took a behind the scenes tour of the facility with Dr. Daniel J. Indelicato, the head of pediatric radiotherapy, to see the engineering behind the science.
Beadles studied mechanical engineering at the University of Utah.
"I love learning about that kind of stuff and seeing what these kids are going through and the science behind all that stuff. This is a pretty impressive place, and definitely interested in doing more."
In the end, Beadles said that the best feeling is seeing what a small visit or party does for children going through so much.
"Even though they are going through this tough time with treatments, just seeing the joy on their face kind of puts everything back in perspective for you.
"When you think you're having a bad day and you see these kids go through what they're going through and they're still happy, I think that has the biggest impact."
For more information of the Parade Foundation, visit www.zanesparade.org.
Lewis takes children shopping
Marcedes Lewis led a group of Jaguars on a shopping trip for 50 local children at a local Target store.
Children from the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation and the Bridge of Northeast Florida each received a $100 gift card to spend on Christmas presents for themselves and family members.
Lewis, along with tight ends Nic Jacobs, Mickey Shuler, Marcel Jensen and wide receiver Damian Copeland, assisted the children throughout the evening in the store.