The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a long history of players who star both on and off the field, making plays to impact games and making an effort to help their community.
Wide receiver Chris Godwin is the latest Buc to do his part in improving the Tampa Bay community. Godwin and his girlfriend, Mariah DelPercio, held a launch party Monday for the Team Godwin Foundation, which is focused on “providing at-risk children and animals a second chance through advocacy and financial support.”
Godwin and DelPercio have two dogs of their own, the second of which they adopted in March. So, the primary mission of the foundation comes from a place near and dear to their hearts.
“I knew I always wanted to make a difference. I wasn’t necessarily exactly sure when I first got in [the league] what that would be,” Godwin said Monday. “I never really wanted to be a person that just jumped into something just to do it. I didn’t want to start a foundation just to say I had one. ... Me and my girlfriend, we’re very passionate about this.”
The Second Chance Fund is a means of funding life-saving treatments for animals in need, while the accompanying advocacy programs “are intended to promote the importance of animal adoption and the fight against human trafficking and child sexual exploitation,” according to the foundation’s website.
DelPercio, who started volunteering at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay in early 2018, said part of the reason they chose this cause was because rescue dogs can’t speak and advocate for themselves.
“[Chris] is blessed with this huge platform with all these fans and everything, and we just want to do something good with it,” DelPercio said. “Your platform is only as good as what you do with it.”
That’s certainly true. The beauty of sports shines brightest when athletes are using their platforms to make a difference, and that’s something the Bucs are exceptionally good at. Godwin, Jameis Winston, Mike Evans, Donovan Smith and Beau Allen are just some of the current members of the roster that are constantly doing incredible work in the community.
Winston, Evans and Allen were joined by Lavonte David, Cameron Brate, Scotty Miller and a host of other players at Godwin’s launch party on Monday. It was a perfect picture of what the organization has always tried to be about.
The community-centric culture of the team isn’t lost on Winston, whose own Dream Forever Foundation works to improve the lives of disadvantaged children.
“I think it’s just one of our biggest platforms [and] we understand that we can make a difference,” he said. “So, we just speak with more our heart than anything else.”
Winston also noted how well Team Godwin’s efforts can connect with the hearts of others.
“Everyone has a love and care for dogs. I know I have me a labradoodle at home right now that I’m about to go to,” Winston said. “It’s so good how [Chris] was able to basically have his passions connect with everyone else’s passions because a lot of people are dog people.”
As far as the culture he is contributing to, Godwin said he believes it exists both within the locker room and with the organization as a whole.
“I think a big thing of it is, one, you’ve got a whole bunch of really good guys in the locker room. ... Guys that care about doing something more than just football, just trying to make a difference in the community.”
“And then you have a really great organization that backs us. There’s a lot of people from the Bucs here [at the launch event]. Not just players, but staffers and our media to cover everything. They really support everything we try to do in the community.”
In today’s culture, it’s easy to get caught up in the wins and losses side of sports. But it’s important to not lose sight of what really matters. Godwin, his teammates and the Buccaneer organization certainly don’t.