Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and a General too!

Andrew with his mother, father & sister

Fifteen-year-old Andrew and his family have been big Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans since before he can even remember. As a true Bucs football fan, he loves to watch the games and keep up with the stats. His bedroom is like a “Buccaneers shrine,” according to his mother, Jeannet.

Andrew’s sports dreams took a back seat when he began treatment for his brain cancer, but in his interview with Toby’s Dream volunteers, Andrew had no hesitation in knowing his greatest dream: to go to a Tampa Bay Bucs game, meet the players, and step aboard the iconic Mighty Pirate Ship at Raymond James Stadium.

Toby’s Dream Foundation arranged for an amazing Buccaneers weekend for Andrew and his family, which left him utterly overwhelmed by the end of the weekend.

 Andrew receives his official Bucs jersey

On the first day, Andrew’s family was given an inside tour of the Buc’s facilities where his beloved team trains, practices, and plays. Andrew was over the moon when they walked out to the practice field to see the Buccaneers huddled with their Head Coach, Lovie Smith, who called out, “Hey Andrew! Come here, let’s talk football!” Coach Lovie introduced Andrew to the team and they welcomed him as the honorary captain for the weekend. Then the Coach presented Andrew with a personalized Bucs jersey, exactly like what the rest of the players wear!

On game day, Andrew got to break the huddle and participate in the coin toss before the game! He said, “It was just crazy and hard to believe!”

One of Andrew’s most memorable experiences was finally going up to stand on the Mighty Pirate Ship, the ultimate symbol of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was greeted by the Captain who gave him beads as a souvenir.

“The look on Andrew’s face was priceless all weekend!” said Andrew’s mother, Jeannet. She couldn’t stop gushing as she said: “Everything they did for him may seem small to some people, but it was a lot for us. Coach Lovie and the Buccaneers treated him like just another player on the field; he got to be ‘normal’ for a while.”

On Sunday, having lunch with the team made Andrew feel like a real teammate. Two of his favorite players, Lavonte David and Louis Murphy, gave him their own cleats, which they personally autographed just for Andrew.

Andrew meets General Dempsey

Andrew could not decide on a favorite experience: “The entire trip from start to finish was amazing.” One of those amazing moments included spontaneously meeting United States’ Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, five star General Martin Dempsey, who is also a cancer survivor. General Dempsey and Andrew made a pact to contact each other in five years so they can both celebrate their winning battle over their respective cancers.

Shortly after Andrew returned to his Virginia Beach home, another gift arrived in the mail– a football signed by the entire Tampa Bay Buccaneers team! What a perfect keepsake to finish an outstanding weekend!

Toby’s Dream Foundation would like to thank our partner, We Promise Foundation; Head Coach Lovie Smith; and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for making this weekend truly unforgettable for Andrew and his family.

For Andrew… Tomorrow begins with a dream…