Shaq Barrett handing out sneakers to kids.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Shaq Barrett recently teamed up with UnitedHealthcare in order to provide foster children at A Kid’s Place of Tampa Bay Inc. (AKP) with new athletic shoes, as well as an opportunity to have a fun-filled day with the NFL star.

“This isn’t the first time we’ve worked with A Kid’s Place, and I am sure it won’t be our last. They do great work; their mission is pure, and just to know that these kids have access to these resources is amazing. My wife and I just want to do what we can to help make things just a little better for the kids, and we are grateful to UnitedHealthcare for working with us on this event,” Barrett said.

Through this event, UnitedHealthcare was delivering the message that health care is not just about what happens inside a doctor’s office, as 80 percent of what influences a person’s health is not connected to medical care. In the spirit of this, the goal of the event was to help build the confidence of these kids and get them active.

“For us at UnitedHealthcare, it’s about making sure basic daily needs are met. It is extremely important for children to be able to play and grow healthy. Shoes that are too tight can hamper walking, running and playing and cause problems. More, having the right pair of shoes can boost confidence and encourage a healthier lifestyle,” explained Michael Lawton, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Community and State Plans of Florida.

This joint effort allowed Barrett and UnitedHealthcare volunteers to gift 60 pairs of new shoes to the children at the January 24 event. UnitedHealthcare also sponsored activities and giveaways, including face painting, caricature artists, a photo booth, T-shirt art, rock climbing, drawstring backpacks with small fun items, snow cones, food and a DJ, with Barrett on-site playing the games and having a great time with the kids.

“It was truly magical to see how the kids’ eyes lit up as they enjoyed a moment of normalcy. These children have been removed from unspeakable situations. For them to be able to create happy memories as they heal from trauma is a true blessing,” said Brad Gregory, CEO of A Kid’s Place of Tampa Bay.

AKP is committed to doing what it can to aid children who were removed from their home for their safety with a priority of keeping siblings together. If you would like to help or gain more information, visit A Kid’s Place of Tampa Bay is located at 1715 Lithia Pinecrest Rd. in Brandon.

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