Community Heroes

History of the Lightning Community Heroes Program

The Lightning Community Heroes Program is the signature philanthropic initiative of the Lightning Foundation and has been lauded for its innovative contributions throughout the sports community. In 2011, Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, along with his wife, Penny, launched the program as a collaboration with the Vinik Family Foundation and the Lightning Foundation to celebrate deserving Heroes and distribute funding to non-profits throughout the Tampa Bay community.

At each of the Lightning's 41 regular season and playoff home games for the past ten seasons, the Lightning Community Hero program has been honored to celebrate a local Hero and donate $50,000 to a non-profit charity of their choice. Celebrating our Community Heroes has become a beloved signature moment at our home games. And to date, the program has honored more than 550 Heroes and distributed more than $29M to over 650 unique non-profits.

Honoring Heroes and a Commitment to Community


Since the launch of the Community Hero program in 2011, it has been our honor to recognize grassroots Heroes whose noble efforts make a positive impact 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, followed by the Foundation presenting the Hero with a $50,000 grant designated to the charities of their choice.

The Community Hero program has become a beloved part of our game presentation, philanthropic programming and the diversity of all that is good and great about Tampa Bay. Through twelve seasons of the program to date, we have celebrated 547 Heroes and donated $29.72M in 1,105 donations to 669 unique non-profits throughout the Tampa Bay area.

Prior to the 2021-22 season, after the first ten impactful years of the program, Jeff and Penny Vinik generously pledged to continue the Hero program for another 5 years with a $10M donation. We also expanded the opportunities with which non-profits can apply for funding in order to ensure maximum impact and participation. To continue celebrating grassroots Heroes who volunteer at local non-profits, non-profits may now apply directly for $50,000 in grant funding to support specific projects and programs, all while highlighting an internal Hero at the non-profit who champions the grant for which the non-profit is applying.

We will have three nomination and application deadlines for this season's Lightning Community Hero Program: Friday, August 25th, Friday, November 3rd, and Friday, January 12th. The application and nomination portals will close at 3:00pm ET on each of those three deadline days. Applications submitted after 3:00pm ET will not be considered for that application cycle.

For a full list of the 2022-23 Community Hero class, click the link below.

Saluting Those Who Have Made A Difference

Hero Class of 2021-22
Hero Class of 2020-21
Hero Class of 2019-20


Lightning Community Heroes

Lightning Community Heroes

Since 2011, the Lightning have honored a Community Hero at every game and presented that hero with a check for $50,000 to donate to a non-profit charity of their choice.

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