07/10/2012 12:06 PM - JACKSONVILLE – When the ArenaBowl XXIV Champion Jacksonville Sharks defeated the Iowa Barnstormers on Saturday, May 19, it was not only the team that emerged with a victory. On Military Appreciation Night, the Sharks and Taco Bell helped raise $30,151 to be donated to the Armed Forces Families Foundation. The Sharks will formally present their donation to AFFF during the team’s Saturday, July 14 game against the Orlando Predators.

Representatives from AFFF announced that the Sharks’ contribution will be used to directly support the foundation’s current project at Naval Air Station Jacksonville. This initiative includes the construction of two age-appropriate playgrounds, a renovation of the facility’s family pavilion and the addition of electricity and other amenities to the pavilion.

“This year’s Military Appreciation Night was a tremendous success,” Sharks Partner and Air Force Veteran Larry Payne said. “Thanks to the generosity of our fans and our partnership with Taco Bell, our contribution to AFFF will directly benefit many of the service personnel in our local community.”

A large portion of the donation came courtesy of the team’s postgame jersey auction. The Sharks wore unique digital camouflage jerseys on Military Appreciation Night, and following the game each player’s jersey was auctioned during the on-field postgame autograph session.

Beyond the auction, the Sharks spearheaded a number of other initiatives to increase the impact of the event. At SharkFest before the game, the team offered special Military Appreciation Night t-shirts in exchange for a small donation. The shirts sold out prior to the start of the game. The Attack Dance Team also accepted donations as they autographed their new military posters as fans entered the arena.

Proceeds from the auction and pregame initiatives totaled $18,021. In addition, Taco Bell aided the Sharks in boosting Military Appreciation Night by giving fans the opportunity to donate in exchange for a coupon for a free taco. Between all participating restaurant locations and Taco Bell’s display at SharkFest, this specific initiative generated an additional $12,130.

“The Sharks’ owners, support staff and players have been incredibly positive and supportive of this effort to help local military families,” local Taco Bell franchisee Thaddeus Foster said. “Their fans are amazing, and their support has made all the difference in completing this project.”

Foster added that the partnership with the Sharks was the most successful partnership that Taco Bell has had since beginning work with AFFF.

About the Armed Forces Families Foundation

The Armed Forces Families Foundation is a nonprofit organization that improves the lives of service members and their families. It has completed four major projects, at Fort Irwin, Calif.; Camp Pendleton, Calif.; the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and the Mayport USO Center in Jacksonville, Fla.

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About the Jacksonville Sharks

The Jacksonville Sharks are members of the Arena Football League (AFL). The ArenaBowl XXIV and back-to-back South Division Champions are presented by Sea Best Seafood and play all home games on Sea Best Field at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. Season Tickets for the 2012 season are now available, two tickets as low as $75. To reserve your season tickets or for more information, please call (904) 621-0700. Follow the Sharks on facebook at and on Twitter @jaxsharks, as well as the Attack Dance Team at