TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Doc Johnston as the 41st Lightning Community Hero this season during the first period of tonight's game versus the Buffalo Sabres. Johnston, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the funds to the Dental & Wellness Clinic, which is part of the Homeless Empowerment Program (HEP).
As the founder of the HEP Dental Clinic, Johnston has dedicated his retirement years to improving the dental health of the uninsured homeless. Upon retiring from private dental practice in 1991, Doc began volunteering at HEP. Through this he saw first-hand the critical need for basic and emergency dental care among the poor and decided to start his own program. Johnston enlisted 13 local dentists to volunteer their services at the clinic and recruited students from the dental hygiene program at St. Petersburg College to teach classes and to treat patients.
Since its start, the clinic has provided nearly 73,000 emergency, preventative and restorative dental procedures valued at over $8,913,934 to HEP residents. In 2016 alone, HEP assisted 1,262 residents, including 70 families, 146 children and 566 Veterans. In addition, Johnston has donated more than 4,000 professional hours to the HEP Dental and Wellness Clinic over the last 27 years. He has allowed thousands of individuals to lead healthier lives with a higher sense of self-worth, ultimately helping them to secure jobs and break the cycle of homelessness. His legacy will live on for many years in the smiles he's created.
Doc Johnston become the 313th 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 $15.75 million to more than 400 different nonprofits in the Greater Tampa Bay area. During the summer of 2016, the Vinik's announced that the community hero program will give away another $10-million over the next five seasons.