Since 2011, we have been able to honor 271 Lightning Community Heroes, giving $13.65 million through 557 gifts to 380 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. Last season, we were delighted to create a new initiative, the Lightning Community Heroes of Tomorrow program, to help inspire and educate the next generation of leaders and philanthropists in our community.
Nominations for the Lightning Community Hero program are closed for the remainder of the 2017-18 season. Our Lightning Community Heroes of Tomorrow application for next season will open in the Spring of 2018. Traditional Lightning Community Hero Nominations will open 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.