Inspired by fathers; sharing a sweet treat

Published April 8, 2005

From inspiring projects to noteworthy festivals to simple appearances, I'm always pleased to write about community people who are reaching back.

Seattle Seahawks receiver Darrell Jackson is one of those folks. Growing up as a multisport star in Tampa, Jackson made contact with people across Tampa, from Ybor City to Carrollwood, West Tampa and Interbay.

Jackson, who graduated from Tampa Catholic and went on to the University of Florida, said meeting people from different walks of life shaped who he is today.

So it comes as little surprise that Jackson, who still lives in Tampa during the offseason, is looking to give back to the community. This weekend he launches the Darrell Jackson Family Foundation with the two-day D-Jack "Rep Yo" City Celebrity Ball Out Tournament at MacFarlane Park.

The tournament runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and will feature teams of mostly current and former NFL players, who will make donations to participate in the tourney. Jackson's goal is to provide academic support to kids and create a youth sports program.

In addition to Jackson, a football and basketball standout at Tampa Catholic, players scheduled to participate or appear include Cincinnati's Peter Warrick, Seattle's Bobby Taylor, Cleveland's Andre Davis, San Diego's Reche Caldwell, Jacksonville's Mike Peterson and the Bucs' Anthony McFarland.

"I wanted to do something outside in a public park and I like that it's a park that has some history to it," Jackson said. "I could have done something in a gym at the University of South Florida or the University of Tampa where people would have to pay a fare, but I wanted something where people could come outdoors, eat barbecue and roam around and mingle with the players."

Jackson also hopes the foundation will extend the legacy of his father, who died on Dec. 10, just five hours before a game between Seattle and Minnesota. Jackson played in honor of his father and had 10 receptions for 135 yards.

Dr. Paul Sheehy Jr. knows all about a father's inspiration. From 1951 until his death in 1980, Paul Sheehy Sr. was a prominent doctor in Tampa's African-American community, practicing medicine in an office on the corner of Lake Avenue and 29th Street.

Now the younger Sheehy is reminded of his father each time his drives down 40th Street past Paul Sheehy Sr. Elementary.

"It makes me proud and humbles me at the same time," Sheehy said of the school, which has its official dedication set for 2 p.m. Sunday.

Now Paul Jr., a local podiatrist, is doing more than reveling in his father's legacy. He's passing it on to the next generation with a new group called Future Doctors of Florida. So far, Sheehy has met with fourth- and fifth-graders at Sheehy Elementary who are interested in medicine.

It seems like a young age to turn kids on to medicine, but Sheehy said if you wait until high school, it may be too late to help them.

"We have a few kids in fourth and fifth grade who are saying they want to be an OB-GYN, a plastic surgeon and a dermatologist," Sheehy said. "What we try to do is tell them, "It's okay to be smart, and in order to make it, you have to be smart.'

"We tell them, "You are the leaders of the school and you have to set the example. You have to set your own goals now and don't let anyone tell you what you can or can't do.' "

Local officials from Blue Bell Creameries contacted American Idol participant Jessica Sierra and said they wanted to throw her an ice cream party. It would have been easy for Sierra to have the trucks roll up to her house with her favorite flavor, mint chocolate chip, but she had a better idea.

Before she rose to fame, Sierra spent time reading and singing to students at Lee Elementary on Columbus Drive. So she asked Blue Bell to take the party to the school. According to a Blue Bell spokesperson, kids screamed as Sierra drove up in a new truck Autoway Ford gave her.

Nearly 400 students gobbled up gallons of vanilla, while Jessica got to take home four half gallons.

Appropriately, it was sweets for a sweet gesture.

That's all I'm saying.

Ernest Hooper can be reached at 813 226-3406 or Hooper@sptimes.com