TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Blayne Smith as the seventh Lightning Community Hero of the 2016-17 season during the first period of tonight's game versus the New York Islanders. Smith, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Team Red, White and Blue.
Blayne Smith left the military in 2010 and began working at a large medical company in the Tampa Bay area. While working in the medical field, Smith started volunteering and fundraising as an original member of Team RWB. As time went on, Smith became more involved in his volunteer work and realized the enormity of the need. In 2011, Team RWB's board of directors offered Smith a job as the executive director of the organization. Despite having a large salary, security, and benefits with his current job, Smith jumped at the opportunity to join Team RWB and assist veterans in need as a career.
Since 2010, Team RWB has grown to over 110,000 members in nearly 180 cities across the country. The Tampa chapter alone provides programs to over 1,300 members while working closely with James A Haley VA Medical Center to provide therapeutic recreation to many deserving veterans. Team RWB has been recognized as a best-in-class nonprofit by organizations such as The George W. Bush Center, The Clinton Foundation, and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families. Each month, Team RWB hosts over 1,800 local events that yield over 20,000 regular participants. Their facility on Platt Street offers free access to fitness classes and other resources to more than 300 veterans and family members each month. Smith was recognized as the Tampa Bay Business Journal's "Hero at Work" in 2014.
Smith becomes the 236th 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 $11.95 million to more than 300 different non-profits in the Greater Tampa Bay area.