TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Cortez Wiley as the eighth Lightning Community Hero of the 2016-17 season during the first period of tonight's game versus the San Jose Sharks. Wiley, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate $25,000 to the Tampa Museum of Art and receive a scholarship grant of $25,000 to assist in his educational pursuits.
Wiley began high school as a homeless youth without many options. Wiley and four other family members spent countless nights trying to sleep in a car. Certain nights they would stay in a small hotel room with one bed, a mini refrigerator, and a small stove. Starting Right, Now (SRN) found Cortez and began to mentor and introduce him to volunteer programs throughout Tampa. Wiley has volunteered at Relay for Life, Metropolitan Ministries, and many events conducted by SRN. A mentor at SRN helped Wiley get his first camera which inspired him to help others around him who have been placed in similar situations.
Wiley hopes to expose other underprivileged youth to the art of photography through a program with the Tampa Museum of Art. The program will offer students free, long term exposure to the art of photography. Each program will consist of eight visits with all equipment provided to those involved. Wiley hopes to give those who participate an entirely new perspective on life similar to what he saw the first time he received a camera.
Wiley becomes the 237th 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 $12 million to more than 300 different non-profits in the Greater Tampa Bay area.