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How Bucs, Rays and the rest of the sports world are helping in the coronavirus fight

Our updated list on how sports teams, employees and other groups are doing their part during the pandemic.

As the country grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, the sports world is doing its part to try to help while their athletes remain sidelined. We’ve compiled an incomplete list (heavy but not exclusively from Florida) of some of the ways teams and players are helping the community and the fight against the novel coronavirus:

Donations and fundraisers

Ann Austin, the Women's Tennis Association's senior director of community development, delivers medical supplies for local hospitals. [Courtesy: WTA]

Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and his wife, Penny, are up to $1 million in donations to Metropolitan Ministries. It also handed USF $50,000 to help students with necessities like rent, food and toiletries.

The Lightning is auctioning off autographed sticks in exchange for donations toward relief efforts.

The Bucs have donated 5 million meals for Feeding Tampa Bay.

The Rays and Rowdies have set up a COVID-19 Relief Grant Program to aid organizations that provide food and shelter relief in the community. Their overall financial commitment: $1 million.

The Glazer family (which owns the Bucs) have given $100,000 to the Fighting Chance Fund, which helps locally owned small businesses in St. Petersburg. The Lightning and Rays have, too.

Bucs lineman Alex Cappa set of a chain of supporting local restaurants and providing meals to area health care workers.

The Bucs, Rays and Lightning have all pledged $100,000 to One Tampa, a relief fund that will help families pay for their rent, mortgage or utilities.

The Mike Evans Family Foundation has pledged $50,000 to the United Way Suncoast for relief efforts. The donation from the Bucs star receiver is expected to help more than 53,000 people in the area.

New Bucs quarterback Tom Brady and his wife are providing 750,000 meals through Feeding Tampa Bay. Brady is also taking part in the All-In Challenge by auctioning off a chance to watch Brady’s first Bucs game and meet him afterward, among other things.

Lightning players have donated 500,000 meals through Feeding Tampa Bay. They’re also creating a fund to help support part-time employees of the team and Amalie Arena who are now out of work.

The Rays donated $100,000 to Feeding Tampa Bay and will match funds for another $150,000 through an online food drive. They’re also giving payments of $500 or $1,000 to game-day workers, like people who work in security, cleaning or concessions.

The St. Petersburg-based Women’s Tennis Association has donated 5,000 N95 masks to be distributed to area hospitals. The WTA is also donating 20,000 meals through Feeding Tampa Bay and has launched a WTA 4 Love campaign.

Other food donations

Former Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston and WWE star Titus O’Neil donated $50,000 to Metropolitan Ministries to provide food to needy families.

Broadcaster Erin Andrews (a Bloomingdale High graduate) gave 100 beyond-meat burgers to the workers at Tampa General Hospital.

Rays pitcher Ryan Yarbrough gave enough food from Buddy Brew Coffee to feed about 125 people at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

The Bolts Better Halves gave more than 100 meals to the staff at Tampa General Hospital.

Former Rays pitcher Chris Archer sent coffee and breakfast pastries to the staff at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.

Amalie Arena donated 18 pallets of food and drinks to Feeding Tampa Bay and Metropolitan Ministries. The items were initially supposed to be used during events at the arena, like March Madness.

IndyCar teams donated their extra food after the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg was called off three hours into a three-day event. That was almost 3,000 pounds of food just from Team Penske, Andretti Autosport and Chip Ganassi Racing, according to the Indianapolis Star.


Cars are lined up in the parking lot outside of Raymond James Stadium Wednesday, March 25, 2020 in Tampa. The city asked residents to pre-register for coronavirus testing before arriving at Raymond James Stadium. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]

Raymond James Stadium has been serving as a testing site for people who might have the virus.

Daytona International Speedway will also be acting as a drive-up testing site starting Friday morning through one of its partners, AdventHealth. Other tracks are doing the same thing, including Charlotte Motor Speedway and Martinsville Speedway.

Daytona also bought BBQ for first responders in Volusia County.

In the SEC, the University of Kentucky’s indoor football facility, the Nutter Field House, is set to become a 400-bed temporary hospital that could treat a surge of patients.


In this March 23, 2020, photo provided by Bauer Hockey Corp., an employee models a medical face shield the hockey equipment manufacturer has begun creating to help those treating the coronavirus pandemic, at Bauer Hockey Corp. in Blainville, Quebec. [AP]

Manatee County-based running store Fit2Run has a campaign to donate comfortable shoes to doctors and nurses.

Hockey equipment manufacturer Bauer pivoted from making helmet visors to medical visors.

Several auto racing companies have switched, too. Dallara has gone from making IndyCar chassis to masks and gowns. NASCAR’s R&D Center is also producing protective gear. And Bridgestone, the parent company of IndyCar tire supplier Firestone, is producing face shields.

Fanatics, which makes Major League Baseball uniforms, has been using the polyester mesh fabric to create masks and hospital gowns.

Other good deeds

The Vinik Family Foundation has taken out public service announcements in many mediums, including the Times, radio, billboards and social media, to guide people in need to existing services. [BOYZELL HOSEY | Times]

Lightning forward Alex Killorn is selling T-shirts, with 100 percent of the proceeds going toward Hillsborough education.

Former Gators soccer captain and East Lake High standout Shana Hudson is a nurse on the front lines in New York.

Florida Citrus Sports donated $5,000 on behalf of Florida State coach Mike Norvell to diaper banks, which have seen a surge in demand because of the economic crisis.

The Gators are playing their fourth-quarter song, Tom Petty’s I Won’t Back Down, every Friday at noon as a way to stay in touch with fans, even from afar.

The Lightning are taking out public service announcements in the Tampa Bay Times and elsewhere to tell residents where they can go for help.

Employees of the Rays and almost every other MLB team are participating in a large test to study coronavirus antibodies.

Former Bucs quarterback and Florida State star Jameis Winston helped launch a toll-free coronavirus hotline.

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