TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Carson Eckhard as the ninth Lightning Community Hero of Tomorrow this season during the first period of tonight's game versus the Washington Capitals. Eckhard, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the Redlands Christian Migrant Association and Berkeley Prep School, while the other half will go to a scholarship for her future education.
Around the world, girls from low-income families lack the educational, social and extracurricular opportunities of their more affluent counterparts. Likewise, at-risk middle school girls in our community lack the infrastructure needed to cope with the many daily challenges they face. Young women living in low-income neighborhoods are up to four times more likely to become victims of domestic violence than women living in more wealthy neighborhoods while women of lower socioeconomic status are far less likely to graduate high school and hold full-time jobs. Eckhard believes that the best way to solve this problem on a local level is by empowering at-risk young women to pursue their passions through education and outdoor leadership opportunities. Eckhard hopes to provide young women with the tools to become outspoken community leaders. The program, Girls Outside, will encourage local young women to become leaders.
Eckhard believes Girls Outside will be beneficial to the community in two ways. Primarily, the program will inspire participants to become independent global citizens, eager to learn and effect positive change in their world. By encouraging them to pursue passions and academic excellence, Girls Outside aims to promote lifelong success. Doing so will enable them to expand their horizons, thereby reducing the likelihood that they will become victims of poverty and violence. Secondly, Girls Outside will help to solve the problems of increased rates of bullying, domestic violence, and decreased high school graduation rates among women from low-income households by inspiring participants to actively seek solutions to these social problems. Eckhard will aim to conduct activities on Saturdays, approximately twice a month, with Berkeley Preparatory School serving as a home campus.
Eckhard becomes the 264th 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 $13.35 million to more than 300 different non-profits in the Greater Tampa Bay area. Last summer, the Vinik's announced that the community hero program will give away another $10-million over the next five seasons.