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Tony the Tiger, LaDainian Tomlinson announce grant for middle-school athletics

Tony the Tiger visit  Tony the Tiger visit

Tony the Tiger visit  Tony the Tiger visit

Tony the Tiger visit  Tony the Tiger visit

Tony the Tiger visit  Tony the Tiger visit

(EL PASO INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT -- Dec. 12, 2019) — Kellogg’s Tony the Tiger visited three EPISD campuses today to announce a grrrrrreat program that will give $500,000 to middle-school athletics in El Paso.

The program, announced at Wiggs Middle School, is part of the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl and funded through a partnership with the Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation. EPISD middle schools will receive $200,000 from the grant. Tony also made surprise visits to Guillen and Brown middle-school athletes for a similar announcement.

“What happened today is unprecedented – $500,000 worth of equipment from Kellogg’s and Mission Tiger and Dick’s Foundation for El Paso middle schools,” said Bernie Olivas, executive director of the Sun Bowl. “We are extremely proud to partner with Kellogg’s and Tony the Tiger. This is the beginning of what they will be doing nationwide and we’re excited that they picked El Paso to start this initiative.” 

Today’s event at Wiggs comes a few weeks before the Dec. 31 Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl, fittingly announced by a former Sun Bowl alum. LaDainian Tomlinson, a Sun Bowl alum and professional football hall of famer, joined Tony the Tiger at the podium to make the announcement to Wiggs seventh and eighth grade athletes. Tomlinson played in the Sun Bowl 20 years ago with Texas Christian University. 

“It’s so exciting to be here with you today,” he told Wiggs students. “Sports played a huge part in my life. Sports teaches us so much. The first thing is teamwork – learning how to work together. It also teaches leadership skills. These are things that you will carry with you for the rest of your lives. That’s why I want everyone to have a chance to play youth sports and that means having the right equipment to be able to play.” 

Tony tossed out footballs, basketballs, gloves, volleyballs out of the back of the Dick’s Sporting Goods truck to the middle students at each of the three campuses. The kids already put some of the sports equipment to good use – tossing footballs, kicking soccer balls and bumping volleyballs.

“It’s an amazing avenue for not only our kids here at Wiggs Middle School but students at middle schools throughout EPISD,” said principal Tim Luther. “This will help improve and increase number of students that participate in athletic programs and help with new equipment that we can implement ASAP.”

Wiggs eighth grader Nathalie Allen, who plays both basketball and football, helped carry in a load of the athletic equipment.

“I think it’s awesome that they came here,” she said. “I really love this school. I think it’ll make us better.”

Like Nathalie, student athletes at all three campuses were grateful for the added equipment and enjoyed the visit by the cereal icon.

“This is important because we don’t have a lot of equipment,” said eighth grader Diego Medina, a Guillen basketball and football player. “This is a great opportunity for us athletes. It’s been really fun. Tony is really funny. I enjoy the cereal and I also buy stuff at Dicks Sporting Goods, so it’s really nice.”

Brown eighth grader Alan Gonzalez, a football and soccer player, high-fived Tony and jumped in when he saw an opportunity to dance with him.

“I love Tony … all his commercials,” he said. “I’m so excited right now. I love sports – it makes me happy. I’m very grateful for this.”


Story by Reneé de Santos
Photos by Leonel Monroy