TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Cathy Valdes as the 11th Lightning Community Hero this season during the first period of tonight's game versus the Carolina Hurricanes. Valdes received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program. She will donate to Narcotics Overdose Prevention and Education (NOPE), Hillsborough County Anti-Drug Alliance, WEDU and YMCA.
Valdes, a Tampa native, has spent her entire adult life serving the youth of her community. She worked as a teacher, principal and district administrator during her 42-year tenure with Hillsborough County Schools. Since her retirement, Valdes has contributed over 5,000 volunteer hours to numerous organizations. As a Family Speaker for NOPE of Hillsborough Parent Presentations, Valdes shares the story of her son's drug addiction and overdose death to educate families on the dangers of substance abuse. She partnered with NOPE to established the Michael Valdes Foundation as an effort to generate awareness of the substance abuse epidemic plaguing the community. The partnership between NOPE and Hillsborough County Public Schools has allowed NOPE to reach and educate 10,000 students.
In addition, Valdes also serves on the Governance Board of the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA, the Advisory Board of Outreach Assisting Students in Schools (OASIS) and volunteers on the Board of Directors for the Conn Memorial Foundation. She has been awarded the Tampa Crossroads Principal of the Year, the Earl Lennard Leadership Award and recognized as a National Distinguished Principal by the National Association of Elementary and Middle School Principals.
Valdes becomes the 379th 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 $18.95 million to more than 750 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.