TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Addison Kapustiak as the 10th Lightning Community Hero of Tomorrow this season during the first period of tonight's game versus the Montreal Canadiens. Kapustiak, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to John Hopkins All Children's Hospital, while the other half will go to a scholarship for her future education.
As a patient at John Hopkins All Children's Hospital, Kapustiak goes in every two weeks to get infusions for a rare disease called TRAPS. TRAPS is a condition characterized by recurrent episodes of fever that typically last about 3 weeks, but can last from a few days to a few months. After Kapustiak receives her treatments, she is able to select a toy out of the prize closet at the hospital. One day in October, Kapustiak noticed that the prize closet was almost empty. This inspired her to start her organization, Sending Smiles.
Sending Smiles raises money and collects toys to donate to Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital. Kapustiak started the organization on her birthday, asking her friends to bring toys that she could donate to patients receiving treatment in the infusion center. With the help of her family and the local community, Kapustiak raised over $2,000 while collecting over 1,500 toys to make her biggest donation to the hospital just before Christmas. Kapustiak has since made a Facebook page for people to reach out and find information on the organization and drop-off locations. Word quickly spread of Sending Smiles and multiple media outlets reached out to help spread the word to the Tampa Bay community. Kapustiak's goal is to make sure that the prize closet is always full, not just around the holidays.
Kapustiak becomes the 268th Lightning Community Hero since Jeff and Penny Vinik introduced the Lightning Community Hero program in 2011-12 with a $10 million, five-season commitment to the Tampa Bay community. Through this evening's game, in total, the Lightning Foundation has granted $13.55 million to more than 300 different non-profits in the Greater Tampa Bay area. Last summer, the Vinik's announced that the community hero program will give away another $10-million over the next five seasons.
Video: Lightning honor Kapustiak as Hero