TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Dr. Robert Ettleman as the 20th Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight's game against the New York Rangers. Dr. Ettleman, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Gulf Coast Dental Outreach.
Understanding that hundreds of low income families were hit hard by the economic down-turn years ago and couldn't afford basic dental care, Dr. Ettleman decided to do something about it. After being diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 2005 and no longer able to practice dentistry, Dr. Ettleman founded Gulf Coast Dental Outreach two years later, offering non-profit dental work for low income adults in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco Counties. For only $25, patients receive preventative treatment, such as hygiene visits, crowns, dentures and other procedures every Friday in a rented state-of-the-art dental office.
In the five years that Dr. Ettleman's clinic has been open, 4,000 people have benefitted and utilized the services, saving nearly $1.3 million in reduced-cost dental assistance. Despite his own personal adversity, Dr. Ettleman remains hands-on in giving people care. He keeps the doors open at very inexpensive rates for adults and families that are experiencing job loss, difficult financial circumstances and poverty.
Fans are encouraged to log on to www.tampabaylightning.com/heroes to receive additional details about the program, as well as to nominate deserving individuals who are making the Tampa Bay area a better place to live, work and play. The next and final cut-off date for nominations is Monday, February 4. Once a nomination for a Lightning Community Hero has been submitted, the nominee will be asked to provide information about the 501 (c) (3) organizations to which he or she would like to designate the award, should he or she be selected.