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.
The first deadline to nominate a traditional Community Hero is Sept. 18, the second deadline is Nov. 17 and the final deadline is Jan. 19.
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.