On Tuesday, March 17, J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver, owners of the Jacksonville Jaguars, made a check presentation to St. Johns Riverkeeper. In August of 2008, the Weavers issued a challenge to help St. Johns Riverkeeper raise funds necessary to legally challenge plans in central Florida to withdraw millions of gallons a day from the river and to raise awareness about the threats to the health of the St. Johns. St. Johns Riverkeeper was challenged to raise $300,000 in order to receive $150,000 from the Weavers.
"The St. Johns is the very heart and soul of Jacksonville and defines who we are as a community," Delores Barr Weaver said in announcing the grant. "We must protect the health of the river and at the same time we will protect the health of its marine life and our own environment. Today, Wayne and I are pleased to present our check in the amount of $150,000 to Riverkeeper in acknowledgement of their successful campaign. You make us proud every day knowing that you are in the trenches working to protect our greatest natural resource, the beautiful St. Johns."
On March 17, St. Johns Riverkeeper announced the successful completion of its fundraising campaign. The campaign was successful due to the support of school groups, garden clubs, business and civic organizations, and a diversity of citizens throughout the watershed of the St. Johns River.
Neil Armingeon, the St. Johns Riverkeeper, stated that "the incredible generosity and support of the Weavers has enabled us to acquire the resources necessary to defend and protect the health of the St. Johns River. By publicly supporting our efforts, they have also sent a powerful message that the citizens and community leaders who love the river will not stand idly by and allow harm to come to the St. Johns without a fight."
"Wayne and I continue to be deeply concerned about the plans to withdraw millions of gallons of water from the St. Johns and the potential harm that this could cause to our river," said Delores Barr Weaver. "We absolutely love the river and recognize how important it is to Jacksonville's economy and quality of life. We are happy that we have been able to play a part in the efforts to raise awareness about the river and to address the threats facing our St. Johns."
"With the help of the Weavers and the multitude of concerned citizens and organizations who supported our efforts, we are making progress toward our goal of protecting and restoring the health of the St. Johns," explained Armingeon. "We are so grateful and humbled by the outpouring of support that we have received from the community. This is a testament to how much citizens up and down the river love and cherish the St. Johns River."
St. Johns Riverkeeper is a non-profit grassroots organization that serves as an advocate for the St. Johns River and the communities that benefit from this tremendous resource. The Riverkeeper philosophy is rooted in a sense of public ownership of local water bodies. The mission is to protect, preserve and restore the ecological integrity of the St. Johns River watershed for current users and future generations through advocacy and citizen action.