Diana Rose is a role model working hard to help others improve their lives. She knows what it means to struggle and to prevail against the odds.
The single mother of four lives in Clearwater and works for the State of Florida in downtown St. Petersburg as a public assistance eligibility specialist for the Department of Children and Families. She helps those in need, whether with funds for food or Medicare.
Where does Rose find the time and energy for her compassionate determination to help others?
She also volunteers at her children's schools. She is a student mentor at Clearwater High School, and a math tutor at Belleair Elementary School. Rose also has developed a poetry lesson plan at Largo Middle School.
Rose can relate to some of the citizens she helps. Though Rose has a car, she confesses it is unreliable. For four years she has taken public transportation to work, a job where her supervisor can't remember Rose ever being late.
Additionally, Rose walks six miles round-trip to Clearwater High School for her mentoring program, in addition to her trips to Largo Middle School and Belleair Elementary.
Her public transportation days and long walks may come to an end, thanks to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Monday while taking a break from work, Rose walked outside to notice co-workers, Bucs cheerleaders and players lining the sidewalk, leading to a new white 2012 Ford Focus. Rose’s new car.
The giveaway is the third consecutive year the Bucs have found a needy citizen to award a car -- trying to better the lives of some of the area's top residents.
The program is called "Road to Success," and this year some 400 residents were nominated. Rose was nominated by her supervisor, Donna Lytwyn.
The sticker on the Ford Focus showed the price of the car to be $18,390.
When Bucs linebacker Dekoda Watson greeted Rose, opened the driver's side door, handed over the keys and escorted her to the driver's seat, Rose held her face in her hands, stunned at the gift, with tears of joy.
Later when composed, Rose lauded the Bucs.
"Somewhere, my dad is looking down smiling," Rose said. "He was with the Bucs from Day 1. I don’t know of any major league team that gives more than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They give to children, they give to families... and they have given to me."
Despite the award, Rose kept thinking of those she helps on a daily basis.
"I work to make people live better," Rose said. "Every day is a good day here, I honestly can't say I have had a bad day because I love my job. But this tops everything.
"I have never won anything. Ever."
Watson smiled almost as much as Rose. Wearing his red No. 58 jersey, Watson was proud that a good woman was rewarded for her many good deeds.
"It's very humbling," said Watson, who is entering his third year with the Bucs. "There are a lot more heroes out there. With four kids and her job and doing so much for the community and her kids, she needed to be recognized and rewarded.
“Being a Buc means giving back to the community and that is what is special. This will live with me and live with [Rose] forever."
Rose already has plans on how to utilize her new ride.
"I will be able to take my youngest son to soccer practice and take the kids on a vacation," Rose said.
She also plans to take on sort of a promotion at work with new responsibilities where she will drive to Fort Myers to help out residents in need in southwest Florida.
Drive to Fort Myers, that is, in her new car, courtesy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.