100 Yards of Hope Extended Through Super Bowl LV

(Tampa, FL / June 2020) – Earlier this month, National Football League (NFL) Green, announced it will continue serving as a community partner in 100 Yards of Hope — a coral reef restoration mission, begun in 2019, that will extend through the 2020-21 NFL season and Super Bowl LV in Tampa.

The kickoff of 100 Yards of Hope was announced by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Secretary Noah Valenstein during Super Bowl Week in Miami. The announcement was made in conjunction with the launch of a statewide initiative promoting the protection of Florida’s Coral Reef ecosystem by educating the public about the multifaceted economic and ecological impacts Florida’s reefs have at the state, national and global level.

The project, which originated in the waters off Miami as a way of celebrating Super Bowl LIV, the NFL’s centennial season and America’s military veterans, unites Special Operations veterans from FORCE BLUE and the SEAL Veterans Foundation with marine scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Aquarium, Phillip & Patricia Frost Museum of Science, and the University of Miami Rosenstiel School’s Rescue a Reef Program — all in an effort to raise awareness for Florida’s Coral Reef, a vitally important, critically threatened national treasure.

“It’s serendipity for us to have NFL Green back onboard,” said Jim Ritterhoff, FORCE BLUE Executive Director. “While the corals we are using to build 100 Yards of Hope are moving from Tampa (The Florida Aquarium) to Miami, the Super Bowl will be moving from Miami to Tampa. That’s a uniquely Florida story, in a year that just happens to be uniquely Florida for the NFL.”

“FORCE BLUE works with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection on critical coral reef conservation efforts,” stated Joanna Walczak, Southeast Administrator for DEP’s Office of Coastal Resilience and Protection. “Together we work to protect and restore the wonders of Florida’s Coral Reef through dedication to conservation and educating our communities. These inspiring special operations veterans are a testament of what can be done when we all come together to work on a common goal.”

“It has been an honor to work alongside Force Blue, Florida DEP and marine scientists to help restore a portion of Florida’s barrier reef” says Susan Groh, Associate Director of NFL Green. “The NFL has supported community greening projects for 16 years around our signature events. Force Blue was the first partner to take us underwater to work on environmental issues. It is inspiring to see special ops military veterans working side-by-side with marine scientists to heal our coral reefs.”

The 100 Yards of Hope team is actively seeking support from all those who believe in the mission and would like to play a part in its success. 

Those corporations, companies, organizations and individuals who would like to contribute to the effort should contact Jim Ritterhoff, jim@forceblueteam.org / 914.841.7230

Members of the media who would like to help tell the 100 Yards of Hope story should contact Emily Patrolia, emily@forceblueteam.org / 703.718.6189

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Built to address to seemingly unrelated problems — the rapidly declining health of our oceans and the difficulty too many servicemen and women face in their transition back to civilian life once their service ends — FORCE BLUE is the only nonprofit organization in the world that retrains, retools and redeploys former Special Operations veterans and military-trained combat divers to work alongside marine scientists on missions of environmental conservation and preservation. By adopting a trans-partisan, mission-focused approach, FORCE BLUE has created a model of caring, cooperation and positive change with the power to restore lives and the planet.

NFL Green, the NFL’s environmental program, has managed environmental-related Super Bowl projects for nearly 30 years. These environmental projects are part of a larger program of community events and initiatives implemented each year by the NFL and Super Bowl Host Committee to leave a positive benefit in each Super Bowl host community. NFL Green forms partnerships that can create a positive, “green” legacy in host communities. These efforts include urban forestry and community greening projects, food recovery and distribution, recycling and solid waste management, recovery and donation of event and building materials, the use of “green energy” to power events, and the Super Kids-Super Sharing community project which puts books, sports equipment and school supplies into the hands of local children in need.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship, protecting our air, water and land. Protecting water quality and preserving the state’s natural resources remains a top priority for the DEP in addition to protecting Florida’s reef systems through its Coral Reef Conservation Program, co-management of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and through its roles in the US Coral Reef Task Force and US All Islands Coral Reef Committee. The department leads national and statewide coral reef-related policy, management and stakeholder engagement actions while also maintaining the state’s aquatic preserves. For more information, visit FloridaDEP.gov.

The Florida Aquarium actively participates in and promotes stewardship of the natural environment as part of our mission of conservation. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, The Florida Aquarium provides an opportunity to see over 8,000 aquatic and terrestrial animals, explore complex ecosystems, look for wild dolphins in Tampa Bay, play at the Splash Pad and more! The Florida Aquarium’s Coral Conservation Program is dedicated to caring for threatened species of coral and leading critical initiatives that facilitate our ability to restore the Florida Reef Tract. Our team of coral experts have made several ground-breaking and globally recognized advancements by inducing the sexual reproduction of several threatened species of coral in our laboratory and developing excellent husbandry techniques to raise healthy coral babies. To learn more, follow us on social media at @floridaaquarium and visit www.flaquarium.org.

The University of Miami is one of the largest private research institutions in the southeastern United States. The University’s mission is to provide quality education, attract and retain outstanding students, support the faculty and their research, and build an endowment for University initiatives. Founded in the 1940’s, the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science has grown into one of the world’s premier marine and atmospheric research institutions. Offering dynamic interdisciplinary academics, the Rosenstiel School is dedicated to helping communities to better understand the planet, participating in the establishment of environmental policies, and aiding in the improvement of society and quality of life. For more information, visit: www.rsmas.miami.edu and Twitter @UMiamiRSMAS

Located in Downtown Miami’s Maurice A. Ferré Park, the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science is a leading-edge science museum dedicated to sharing the power of science, sparking wonder and investigation, and fueling innovation for the future. Sitting on four acres, the 250,000-square-foot museum divides into four distinct buildings: the Frost Planetarium, Aquarium, and the North and West Wings. At Frost Science, visitors can explore the world of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in an experiential setting with interactive exhibitions and unique shows. Frost Science is supported by the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners of Miami-Dade County. This project is supported by the Building Better Communities Bond Program and the City of Miami. Sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture. The museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and a member of the Association of Science and Technology Centers. Learn more at frostscience.org.

The Coral Reef Conservation Program was established in 2000 by the Coral Reef Conservation Act to protect, conserve and restore the nation’s coral reefs by maintaining healthy ecosystem function, and is a partnership between the NOAA Line Offices that work on coral reef issues. The program brings together expertise from across NOAA for a multidisciplinary approach to understanding and conserving coral reef ecosystems. The Coral Reef Conservation Program focuses on four main pillars of work: Increase resilience to climate change, reduce land-based sources of pollution, improve fisheries’ sustainability, restore viable coral populations.