TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Dwayne Hawkins as the 24th Lightning Community Hero this season during the first period of tonight's game against the Los Angeles Kings. Hawkins, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate to the St. Petersburg Free Clinic, Florida Dream Center, Starting Right, Now and Christian Home & Bible School.
Hawkins has been a business and community leader in the Tampa Bay area for over 50 years. As a longtime member of the Pinellas Education Foundation Board of Directors, Hawkins made significant contributions to improve education in Pinellas County Schools. Through his efforts, Hawkins funded 15 Take Stock in Children college scholarships to deserving students and received the Pinellas Free Enterprise Hall of Honor Award for outstanding support of public education. In addition, Hawkins championed cancer research efforts while serving eight years on the Moffitt Cancer Center Foundation Board. During his time on the board, Hawkins established the $600,000 Hawkins Stem Cell Endowed Chair at Moffitt Cancer Center in 2012.
Hawkins' Crown Automotive Group operates 12 franchised dealerships in Pinellas County and has funded seven Habitat for Humanity homes in the community. Crown Automotive is also a 12-year sponsor of Finance Park, which educates thousands of Pinellas County middle schoolers each year on how to make intelligent life-long financial choices. As an effort to combat hunger in the community, Crown Automotive has packaged over 200,000 meals for the St. Petersburg Free Clinic, Florida Dream Center and Pinellas County Schools. Each year, Hawkins' company donates to numerous nonprofits, including Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Florida Dream Center.
Hawkins becomes the 389th 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 $19.60 million to more than 750 different nonprofits in the Greater Tampa Bay area. During the summer of 2016, the Vinik's announced that the community hero program will give away another $10 million over the next five seasons.