by Mike Henry

(Left to right, below: Margo Flynn, Mark Downing, Greg Bayor, Peggy Lenny)     


Continuing its tradition of serving residents in its own backyard, Tampa Bay Downs
donated $10,000 to Friends of Tampa Recreation, Inc., today in a ceremony at the Sulphur Springs Pool at 701 E. Bird St.

The money will be used to provide free swimming lessons to children and adults living within the 33604 zip code. The donation was generated through the five Charity Days held this season at Tampa Greyhound Track Poker & Racebook, which is owned by Tampa Bay Downs and is adjacent to the pool.

“Our focus each year is contributing to charitable organizations making a difference in our immediate footprint,” said Margo Flynn, the Vice President of Marketing & Publicity for Tampa Bay Downs, who presented the check.

“As owners of Tampa Greyhound Track Poker & Racebook, we are looking to support the Sulphur Springs community in any way we can. The pool is a tremendous resource for residents, and teaching people to swim has many direct, positive benefits.

“It’s a lifelong activity that can help save lives, whether it’s your own life or someone else’s,” Flynn added.

Residents of all ages within the designated area are eligible to sign up for lessons. The pool’s summer session begins Monday.

“If anybody hears about it today, we are ready to sign them up and go,” said Peggy Lenny, the Team Supervisor-Aquatics for the City of Tampa.

Lenny was on hand to accept the check from Flynn, along with Mark Downing, the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Friends of Tampa Recreation, and Greg Bayor, the Director of the City of Tampa’s Parks and Recreation Department.

“We’ve seen through the years that Tampa Bay Downs is an amazing community partner for all kinds of reasons, but this one is particularly special for myself and the city,” said Downing, who is also the Corporate Safety Director at TECO Energy. “What better impact can you have on a community than to teach people to swim? It is something that will contribute to people’s fitness and well-being, and I know it will have life-saving benefits.”

Bayor said the free lessons will dovetail with the Parks and Recreation Department’s “Stay and Play” program, which offers Tampa youth free access to various recreation centers during the summer.

“Mayor (Bob) Buckhorn has introduced ‘Stay and Play’ at nine community centers and five pools, and the whole mission is to get kids off the streets and into something constructive,” Bayor said. “This donation goes hand-in-hand with that program and is very uplifting to the Sulphur Springs area.”

The Sulphur Springs Pool, which is open year-round, is a 7,300 square-foot family leisure facility featuring four 25-yard lap lanes, zero-depth entry, a splash pad and water slides. It borders Sulphur Springs Park, which contains picnic areas, sand volleyball courts, grills and views of the springs and the Hillsborough River.


The Sulphur Springs Pool is a beautiful facility, even on a rainy Friday afternoon

Lenny said the donation of free lessons enables her to focus on other needs. “Some area residents cannot afford swimsuits, but we have a Girl Scouts troop that is gathering suits to donate to the facility,” she said. “We will do everything we can to help members of the community take advantage of this generous donation.”

Other groups to benefit from Tampa Bay Downs this year include Oldsmar Cares, which assists hungry and needy residents in the city in which the Thoroughbred track is located; the Imagine School at Land O’ Lakes (Imagine PTO); Rotary’s Camp Florida, which hosts special-needs children; the Upper Tampa Bay Education Foundation; Florida Thoroughbred Charities; Copperhead Charities; TROT (Thoroughbred Retirement of Tampa, Inc.); the Grayson Jockey Club Research Foundation; the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund; and the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium.

For details on the swimming program at Sulphur Springs Pool, visit www.tampagov.net/parksandrec on the Internet or call (813) 274-5749.