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. At each of the Lightning's 41 regular season and playoff home games for the past four 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. In the first five years of the program, we have shared the stories of 220 deserving Heroes at all of our home games and the Lightning Community Hero program, supported by the Vinik Family Foundation and the Lightning Foundation, has distributed funding to over 400 local charities, totaling $11,100,000 since the program's inception.
In April of 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.
In addition to celebrating Community Heroes who have primarily been selected for their past service to the community, we are delighted to add a new category of awardee: Community Heroes of Tomorrow, which will celebrate inspiring public-spirited young people from the Tampa Bay community who have a history of past community service and volunteerism, but also have plans and ambitions to drive social change and make a positive future impact in the Tampa Bay community.
We are no longer accepting nominations for the 2016-2017 season, but applications will re-open this summer for the 2017-2018 season.