TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Dr. Roy Kaplan as the 19th Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes. Kaplan, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Community Tampa Bay.
Since 1989, Kaplan has been serving as an agent of change to break down the social barriers triggered by racial, religious and cultural differences. Until 2004, he directed the National Conference for Christians and Jews, which is now known as Community Tampa Bay, an organization devoted to ending all forms of discrimination. While serving in this role, in 1991, he developed and founded ANYTOWN, a youth leadership and diversity education program meant to dissolve discrimination in the community. This program has since been lauded as a Best Practice by the US Department of Education and has been recommended as a top program for preventing juvenile delinquency by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.
Kaplan is also the founder of the annual MLK interfaith worship service, which has been a catalyst for bringing diverse backgrounds together to honor Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy principled on peace and understanding, and to act out these principles. In addition to being named tonight’s Lightning Community Hero, Kaplan has also been awarded the WMNF’s Peace and Justice Award (2011), Hillsborough County Bar Association’s Liberty Bell Award (2006), US Department of Education “Hero of Education Award” (1998), Tampa Urban League’s Blance Armwood Baity Community Service Award (1995), Tampa/Hillsborough Human Rights Council’s Humanitarian Service Award (1994), and St. Petersburg Chapter of the NAACP’s Community Service Award (1994).