TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Dr. Hugo and Alicia Keim as Lightning Community Heroes during the first period of tonight's game against the New York Islanders. The couple will receive $50,000 to be donated to their charity of choice, the ChairScholars Foundation.
The Keims founded the ChairScholars Foundation in 1992 with the sole mission of transforming the lives of financially challenged, young individuals with serious physical disabilities. Determined that no physical impairment should deter a motivated mind, the initiative provides scholarships to beneficiaries so that they may attend college or vocational school. To date, a total of 769 scholarships have been awarded. Since the program's inception, ChairScholars has grown exponentially through consistent community outreach and now has the support of over 500 local foundations, businesses and individuals to ensure post-secondary opportunities for these students.
The service offered by the Keims also extends far beyond solely providing financial support. Students are entered into the scholarship program during middle school and are nurtured through high school to bolster their success. Each year, the Keims also host the annual ChairScholars Festival, which takes place at the couple's own private residence. A strong support network is formed among program sponsors and scholarship recipients at the event, as it also fosters life-long connections and enables an ongoing process of support and positive affirmation for all participants.
The Keims' inspiration to serve others stems from a personal struggle with their own disabilities. Dr. Hugo Keim has been blind in one eye since birth, however through perseverance, he was named Chief of Spinal Surgery at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, proving that physical obstacles don't always serve as barriers to success. He met his wife, Alicia, as a patient of his when she consulted him about the 90-degree curve in her back caused by severe scoliosis. Both Hugo and Alicia refused to accept a path predetermined by physical challenge, thus serving as the catalyst that illuminated the pathway to self-determination for others.