When Buccaneer Pro Bowler Vincent Jackson walked into the Tampa Bay Times Forum, he was on a mission.Not just to attend his first hockey game, although he admittedly played a good amount of street hockey growing up, but to promote his foundation, Jackson in Action 83.
Friday night, Jackson provided tickets for the Tampa Bay Lightning's game against the Winnipeg Jets to a multitude of military of groups in the Bay area community, including over 2000 military personnel from MacDill Air Force Base 6th Air Mobility Wing, US Central Command/SOCENT, US Special Operations Command, USO, Army Reserve Medical Command and Support Our Troops.
"My foundation, 'Jackson in Action 83', is based on the military," said Jackson. "That's what we do. It's about the family. It's about deployment. Events like this... this is exactly what we're all about. ... I'm so happy to be in Tampa, man. It means a lot to me to really divulge myself in this community, especially with the military."
For the wide receiver, this event hits close to home. Jackson's father spent 21 years in the Army and is a former 1st sergeant in the medical field.
Jackson knows the military way of life. He lived it.
"I grew up being a military brat myself, so when I had the opportunity to start the Jackson in Action 83 foundation it was a no brainer for me," he said. "You know, we really have a great military community right here in our back yard at MacDill Air Force Base and so any time I can get out and interact with them I have to jump at the opportunity."
Jackson focuses on but is not limited to, supplying help for sons and daughters of military members. He knows all too familiar what the stresses of the military lifestyle can bring.
While his father was in the military, Jackson moved to places like Colorado, Arizona, and even Germany.
"Our main focus is dealing with families that deal with deployment and as much as people give attention to the troops themselves...sometimes it is pretty constructive to deal with the issues that are happening back home."
According to Jackson, the foundation has some upcoming events in the spring and summer of this year that deal directly with the youth in the community, focusing on their health, education, and emotion wellness while their parents are deployed.
Jackson saw the opportunity to create his foundation in November 2012. Through the foundation, military members where able to attend Buccaneers games for free.
Then he envisioned the same with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
To Jackson, the partnership between the Buccaneers and Lightning reflects what kind of community Tampa Bay is.
"I think it's very important, you know what I mean, for us to be in the football arena and then to come out for the Lightning..for them to give us this opportunity to come out and join with us is very special..it just shows what the community is about, the selflessness about it."
For more information on the Jackson in Action 83 Foundation, visit www.jacksoninaction83.org.