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Chris Godwin making an impact on and off the field

Star Buccaneer receiver celebrates the official launch of the Team Godwin Foundation.

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin already has a career high in catches (60), and is two yards and two touchdowns shy from eclipsing career numbers in yards and touchdowns. He’s had a great first nine games of 2019.

But he’s not just trying to make waves on the field. He’s trying to make waves in the community and for others who can’t make their own. Those others are animals. Dogs, specifically.

And with the official launch of the Team Godwin Foundation, he and his girlfriend Mariah DelPercio are looking to make a difference off the field as well. One major part of their mission is to help rescue dogs in need. During their opening remarks to those in attendance, DelPercio said, “There’s a lot of dogs that need homes, there’s a lot of dogs that need help. And one thing that we know is nothing changes if nobody works to make any change. So, we want to do that to the best of our ability.”

The launch was co-hosted by Major League Baseball star Johnny Damon and his wife Michelle as they continue the work they’ve done through the Johnny Damon Foundation, which assists local and national programs that provide leadership and growth opportunities for disadvantaged kids.

Listeners of the Locked On Bucs podcast might remember hearing Godwin talk about getting Team Godwin off the ground as a future goal. While the team has already been hard at work, November 11th marked the official launch, a moment he’s been looking forward to for some time.

“It feels amazing. There’s been a lot of work that’s gone into getting us to this point and getting this launch event planned,” said Godwin. “To get here and see the turnout that we had and just the venue, it’s really a blessing. I think we’re right on track to do a lot of really good things. We’re just excited to make some kind of difference.”

The turnout was impressive. Held at Eddie V’s Prime Seafood in Tampa, there was no shortage of people on hand to show their support to one of the Buccaneers’ bright spots since arriving from Penn State University.

In fact, entering the NFL, Godwin knew he wanted to eventually use his pro football platform for good. The trick was finding his cause, saying, “I knew I always wanted to make a difference. I wasn’t necessarily exactly sure when I first got in what that would be. And I’m never really one to be like that, just jump into something just to do it. I didn’t want to start a foundation just to say I have one. So, like, once I found something I’m really passionate about - that me and my girlfriend are very passionate about - once I found that, we got a really good group of people around us that helped us.”

Part of that group is the Athletes and Causes Foundation. The foundation’s Vice President, Christopher Haran was on hand for the event which included food, live music, raffles, a silent auction and entertainment and referred to Godwin as, “..the hardest working man I’ve ever met. He’s humble. He’s kind, and he just cares.”

Talking about the importance of the work his foundation is involved in, Haran said, “We’re a community foundation aimed to help professional athletes really pursue their philanthropic endeavors, whatever that is. We’re here to help them achieve their goals, make it simple, make it fun.”

And fun it was. Before the event officially got underway, teammates of Godwin’s could be seen mingling with those in attendance, and partaking in a little bit of the entertainment options on hand with a little push from a well known member of the team’s staff.

Of course, Jameis Winston, Beau Allen and Ryan Griffin weren’t the only teammates on hand. And Carmen Vitali wasn’t the only Buccaneers staff member on hand.

Showing the amount of support the Tampa Bay Buccaneers truly show to each other, Cameron Brate, Lavonte David, Mike Evans, Tanner Hudson, Scotty Miller, Bryant Mitchell, Anthony Nelson, Breshad Perriman, and Justin Watson were among the Bucs at the event to support their teammate and his cause.

In addition, the Buccaneers sent cheerleaders and Captain Fear to the launch, while Casey Phillips donated some of her time off to emcee the event. Phillips told me it was something she looked forward to doing as a small way of giving back to the players who consistently give to her in support of her role for the organization.

A unified group indeed. And Godwin’s actions are being noticed by younger teammates as much as they may have been inspired in part by elder ones.

Scotty Miller took time to comment on the influence Godwin is making on him as well as he and his fiancée hope to one day do something similar, saying, “The more plays you make on Sundays, it gives you opportunities to do stuff like this, and help other people or other animals like Chris is doing with dogs. So hopefully in the future, me and my fiancée Jenna can put on something like this. That’s something we’d love to do.”

On the flip side Mike Evans has been established in the league for some time, and also commented on Godwin’s strides as a teammate and community member, saying, “Man, Chris is one of the best teammates I’ve ever had. You know, we’ve been teammates for three years now and I feel like it’s been much longer than that. He’s the ultimate teammate, he’s the ultimate player. He can do so much on the field, and he’s a great guy (off) the field. He knows how to have a great time and he gives back to his community. He’s very passionate about the animals and the dogs....He has a big passion for that, so I’m happy to come out here and support him in his official launch.”

Godwin has been a big hit on the football field, and it’s safe to say the launch of Team Godwin was a big hit for he and DelPercio. For fans wanting to get involved with this foundation, DelPercio said they can do so by following along on Instagram (Team Godwin Foundation) and at teamgodwin.org.

“This is just the launch right now,” DelPercio said, “But as we start having event and everything, we’ll be posting on those. We’ll be posting ways to get involved and volunteer and everything.”

Want to hear this and more of what was said at the Team Godwin launch event? Stay tuned to the Locked On Bucs Podcast! Interested people can also get involved with Athletes and Causes by following along on Twitter and by going to athletesandcauses.org