TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Damon Friedman as the Lightning Community Hero this evening during the first period of tonight's game against the Carolina Hurricanes. Friedman, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, presented by Jabil, will donate the money to Shield of Faith Missions.
Friedman is a combat-decorated veteran who served four combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan in support of the Global War on Terrorism. In 2011 Friedman and his wife Dayna established Shield of Faith Missions, whose mission was to deploy veterans and their families to serve people in need through humanitarian service trips. Today, SOF Missions aims to empower veterans to overcome challenges of combat and military service, while raising awareness of the suicide epidemic among the veteran community. Through SOF Missions, Friedman has helped over 1,000 veterans and educated over 70,000 people on the challenge's veterans face today and how they can become part of the solution.
The grant tonight will be used to support SOF Missions goal to provide unique health care to veterans transitioning to civilian life, called The Resiliency Project. The four-pillar project aims to support psychological, physical, spiritual and social wellness. Friedman has dedicated his life to giving back to veterans facing hardships after service, and his work has positively influenced the lives of many veterans and communities where humanitarian work has taken place.
Friedman becomes the 457th 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 tonight's game, in total, the Lightning Foundation has granted $23.9 million to more than 750 different nonprofits in the Greater Tampa Bay area. During the summer of 2021, the Viniks announced that the community hero program will give away another $10 million over the next five seasons.