TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Carol and Barney Barnett as the first Lightning Community Heroes of the 2017-18 season during the first period of tonight's game versus the Florida Panthers. The Barnett's, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the Mote Marine Laboratory to draw attention to the environmental needs of this community.
The Barnett's impact can be seen in environmental and marine conservation, where they were the lead donors to Mote Marine Laboratory's Oceans of Opportunity campaign. Their donation is significantly responsible in supporting restoration, conservation and sustainable use of the wild stocks of native fisheries in our community. This work also helped to conserve the ocean and surrounding bay areas.
Carol and Barney's generosity extends to other areas including children's services, literacy programs, poverty, education, business development and healthcare. Carol has served as vice chair for the Florida Council of Economic Education, which provides more than 420,000 students, grades K-12, financial education assistance. In addition, she founded the "Feed Me a Story" children's literacy program, which serves nearly 157,000 children annually in Florida. Barney is a widely respected business and community leader, having served on the national Board of Directors for United Way and the Board of Trustees at Florida Southern College, where they established the Barney Barnett School of Business and Free Enterprise in his honor. He also provided a "transformational" naming gift in honor of Carol for the Pavilion for Women and Children at the Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center Campus, where over 3,000 babies are delivered every year.
The Barnett's become the 272nd Lightning Community Heroes 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 $13.7 million to more than 300 different non-profits 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.