The Lightning Community Hero program is the signature philanthropic program of the Lightning Foundation, through which we celebrate deserving grassroots Heroes who help others and donate $50,000 on their behalf to local non-profits. The program is impactful not just for the financial donation, but also to raise awareness for the ways our Heroes are making a difference in our community.
Since 2011, we have been able to honor 323 Lightning Community Heroes, giving $16.25 million through 661 gifts to 438 unique charities. The program celebrates the diversity of all that is good and great about Tampa Bay.
There are two different ways to apply for the Lightning Community Hero Program. We have the traditional Community Hero Program, which is a retrospective award given to individuals with a past history of volunteerism and previous contributions to our community. Additionally, the Lightning Community Heroes of Tomorrow program, is designed to help inspire and educate the next generation of leaders and philanthropists in our community.
Our first nomination deadline for the Community Hero program will be Friday, September 7th, at 5:00pm. Our two additional deadline dates will be announced once the NHL game schedule is finalized later this summer.
The Lightning Community Heroes of Tomorrow program celebrates inspiring public-spirited young people from the Tampa Bay community. We are aiming to identify the young leaders and change-makers ages 25 and under who are driving social change and making a positive impact in their community. We are seeking individuals who have come up with an idea or initiative that can benefit the greater community, helping them take their volunteer efforts to the next level.
The Lightning Community Heroes Program is the signature philanthropic initiative of the Lightning Foundation and has been lauded for its innovative contributions through the sports community. In 2011, Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, along with his wife, Penny, launched the Lightning Community Hero program, which is a collaboration of the Vinik Family Foundation and the Lightning Foundation, to distribute $10 million dollars to deserving Heroes and non-profits throughout the Tampa Bay community over a five-year period.
In April 2016, Mr. and Mrs. Vinik announced another five-year, $10 million pledge through the Vinik Family Foundation to assure the continuation of the Lightning Community Hero program for the next five seasons. Celebrating a Community Hero has become a beloved signature moment at our home games, and we are excited to continue this tradition. At each of the Lightning's 41 regular season and playoff home games for the past six seasons, the Lightning Community Hero program has been honored to celebrate a local Hero and donate $50,000 to a non-profit charity of his or her choice.