TAMPA – Waking up before the sun rises isn’t most folks’ idea of fun, but for a large group of men who have children attending Lowry Elementary School, it’s just part of being a dad.
All Pro Dads is a fatherhood program run by former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy. It teaches parents how to form bonds with their children. On a recent morning at 7, more than 45 men showed up to listen to ways to bond with their children.
Victor Jones is “Team Captain” of the group and said he was surprised how many dads showed up for the first gathering. He had a slideshow presentation on sharing.
“We didn’t even say much about what we were doing,” Jones said. “We wanted it to be word of mouth. To get 45 parents out here for something that we didn’t advertise is amazing.”
Dungy is the national spokesman, but Jones was fervent in his efforts to bring the program to Lowry. The sessions will go every other month with a different theme. Jones is active in the Lowry PTA and his son, Dayton, is a student at Lowry.
Lowry Principal Michelle Spagnuolo heard about the program and decided it was a perfect fit for her school.
“I heard about what Tony Dungy was doing and thought it would be great to get moms and dads involved,” Spagnuolo said. “Once it was approved by the PTA, it was time to get it done.”
Keith Jakacky has a child, Evan, at Lowry and said that the program has helped him bond with his son.
“There’s nothing like him getting to know me and me getting to know him,” Jakacky said. “It’s a special time.”
Steve Ciani agreed.
“I have to say that it is a big thing for me and my kid and it brings us closer together,” Ciani said. “I know her thoughts and she gets to know more about me. That’s special.”
The sharing theme is just a start. Jones said he is looking forward to the next gathering.
“Sharing is a great theme, but we want to do more,” Jones said. “There’s nothing like bringing fathers out here at 7 in the morning to learn how to work with their kids. I can’t believe we had 45 people out here today at 7 in the morning. We might have to open the entire cafeteria next time.”