TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Alex Cooks, Sr. as the 13th Lightning Community Hero of the 2015-16 season during the first period of tonight's game versus the Ottawa Senators. Cooks' widow Aimee received the $50,000 donation in his honor from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, and will donate the money to Alex's Xmas for Kids and others.
Cooks Sr. is the founder of Alex's Southern Style BBQ, and five years into the business he was fortunate it was doing well enough for him to purchase 10 bicycles before Christmas for children in need. Quickly, word spread through Tampa Bay. Cooks ended up donating 182 bicycles on Christmas Eve to kids and families in need. Since 1999, Alex's Xmas for Kids and others have donated 20,000 bicycles to schools, families and children. Cooks also worked with local Hillsborough County elementary school principals and social workers to identify children in need.
This past June, Cooks was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident at the age of 49, but his habit of paying it forward will live on. Cooks will also be known for giving more than receiving. His daily generosity and kind acts have impacted countless lives as his organization strives to bring hope and many more smiles to those children waking up to a new bicycle.
Cooks becomes the 192nd Lightning Community Hero since Jeff and Penny Vinik introduced the 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 $9.75 million to more than 300 different non-profits in the Greater Tampa Bay area.