Photo courtesy of Summerfield Elementary. Each second grade student received a copy of the book Maria Finds Courage.

Former Buccaneer Head Coach and NFL Hall of Famer Tony Dungy and his wife, Lauren, recently visited Summerfield Elementary. The visit was a part of their charity, the Dungy Family Foundation.

The couple has co-authored about 10 books for young children ages 6 to 9 about character-building through the familiar world of sports. They have traveled to several Title I schools to read and visit with the children. This was their first visit to Summerfield Elementary in Riverview.

“It was quite a big deal for us,” said Kelley Beall, SEL Coach/Behavioral Specialist at Summerfield Elementary. “Even though there were about 140 people in the media center at the time, it was a very intimate environment with Tony and Lauren Dungy being so up close and personal with our kids, walking through the group of kids and answering questions. It was a lot of fun for everybody.”

The Dungys are well-known advocates of supporting young learners and teaching them life-lessons. They read to the 135+ second graders in the media center and gave them each a copy of the book that they read to them called Maria Finds Courage. The book was about a little girl finding the courage to try something new. Four fifth graders were also chosen to help escort and greet Coach Dungy and Mrs. Dungy, and they were able to ask them questions.

“I was shy at first and then I started feeling better when he started talking to me,” said fifth grade greeter and escort, Vartiece Hamilton. “I’ve never been next to an actual NFL Coach—this was my first time. I also thought it was really cool how he puts every single one of his kids (10 kids) in his books.”

“I was so excited when I first met them,” said second grader Tatianna Carrillo. “I loved the picture taking the most because it was all of us together, like a family.”

The school is optimistic that the Dungys will visit the school again next year. For more information, visit the website at TeamDungy.com.

“This will be a memory that lasts a lifetime,” said Beall. “It was such an honor to have them come here.”