Super Bowl LV has put an international focus on Tampa during the past week — with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers claiming victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, at Raymond James Stadium.
The impact of the Super Bowl, however, goes far beyond football.
Beyond giving Tampa a chance to show itself off to the world, the event is a magnet for megastars and offers the experience of a lifetime for many spectators.
It’s also a chance to gain a huge audience for special causes.
That’s where Big Brothers Big Sisters Tampa Bay comes in.
The organization — which covers an eight-county area, including Pasco and Hillsborough counties — has been using Super Bowl LV as its platform to recruit 55 men to become Big Brothers to boys, ages 5 to 13.
Heather Castle, director of activities and training for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay, said finding more mentors is especially important during this difficult COVID-19 time.
The push for 55 men is in recognition of the 55th Super Bowl, Castle said.
“The reason for the big push on men is because we have many Little Brothers on the waitlist and not enough male role models,” she explained.
She knows the value, firsthand, of having a mentor take an interest in her.
Tyrone Keys, a member of the 1985 Chicago Bears Super Bowl championship team, became Castle’s mentor when she a 15-year-old attending Gaither High School.
After his football career, Keys founded All Sports Community Service Inc., which aims to help youths pursue college scholarships.
That’s how he met Castle.
Keys worked with her to help her achieve her dream of playing college basketball, which she did at Saint Leo University.
“He took me under his wing. He believed in me. He sat down with me and said, this is what exactly what you need to do,” Castle said.
He also taught her about the value of community involvement, and helping others, whenever possible.
And now, Castle has come full circle in her current role at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay.
“Because Mr. Keys equipped me with the tools, I am able to help them.”
Besides helping youths pursue their potential, the organization provides opportunities for new experiences and fun.
Now, Castle is able to take youths to their first Bucs football game, just like Keys did for her.
She said Keys gave her two tickets to a Bucs game when she was 17, and told her to invite a friend. She took her mom, Kathy Castle, because her mom was her best friend.
She still relishes the memory of that day, especially since her mom passed away five years ago.
While the Big Brothers Big Brothers of Tampa Bay’s current campaign focuses on drafting 55 men, the organization needs the help of women mentors, too, Castle said.
The need for help is obvious.
Her organization currently has more than 500 kids on its waiting list, Castle said, noting mentors can make a profound — and life-changing difference.
Anyone interested in learning more about getting involved can visit the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay’s website at BBBStampabay.org.
Published February 10, 2021