The Lightning Community Hero program was created in 2011 by Jeff Vinik as the signature philanthropic program of the Lightning Foundation. Since October of 2011, at every home regular season and post-season game, it has been our honor to recognize grassroots Heroes whose noble efforts make a positive impact of others by awarding them with a Lightning Community Hero award.
Honorees' rich history of volunteerism and good works are celebrated via an in-game video that illustrates how the Hero is using his or her life to help others less fortunate, and inspires our fans to also use their lives to help make a difference in the greater Tampa Bay community. The Hero is also presented with a $50,000 grant on their behalf to benefit the charities of his or her choice.
After the first five years of the program, we were delighted to create an extension of the program - the Lightning Community Heroes of Tomorrow program - for weekend games. The Hero of Tomorrow program is uniquely designed to help inspire and educate the next generation of leaders and philanthropists in our community.
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.
Through the first seven years of the Community Hero and Community Hero of Tomorrow program, we have been privileged to honor 323 Lightning Community Heroes and donate $16.25 million through 661 gifts to 438 unique charities.
The Community Hero program has become a beloved part of our game presentation and philanthropic programming and celebrates the diversity of all that is good and great about Tampa Bay.
We are delighted to be honoring Community Heroes again this season. Further information about each program is below.
Community Hero nominations are now closed for the 2018-2019 season. Nominations will re-open this summer and the selection process will start again at the beginning of the 2019-2020 season.
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.