TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Anna Rodriguez as the 18th Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight's game against the Florida Panthers. Rodriguez, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking, the Joshua House and Crisis Center and the Family Justice Center.
It has been Rodriguez's mission since 2005 to fight against all forms of human trafficking in the United States and abroad. She has brought traffickers to justice and helped rebuild the lives of victims from all around the world. Rodriguez has rescued victims, reunited them with their families and helped them find a new path in education or work.
Rodriguez became aware of the human trafficking issues while working for the Collier County Sherriff's Office during a domestic dispute call in the 1990s. That experience motivated her to found the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking. The organization works closely with community service providers to supply victims with emergency food and shelter, medical treatment and other services to help restore their lives and basic freedoms. With recent cutbacks on contributions, Rodriguez is funding these efforts through her own personal savings.