TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Emily Surak as the 17th Lightning Community Hero this season during the first period of tonight's game versus the Colorado Avalanche. Surak, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate half to the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, while the other half will go towards a scholarship for her own education.
Surak has dedicated the last 22 months to working with the Crisis Center and the Foundation for Suicide Prevention. After a close friend delt with suicidal thoughts Emily realized the lack of awareness for the Crisis Center in schools. She then decided to create Be The Voice, a talent show at Plant Hight to raise awareness for suicide prevention and the Crisis Center 2-1-1 hotline. In creating this, she led a 12-student board and recruited 50+ student performers. The first Be The Voice event raised over $1,700 for the Crisis Center which helps them offset costs associated with the 2-1-1 hotline and counseling services.
Emily continues to promote awareness of the Crisis Center and is working to package Be The Voice to be replicated at other high schools in Hillsborough County. She is also a speaker at Crisis Center events, World Suicide Prevention Day 2017, and Plant PTSA/Academic Foundation meetings. When Surak is not speaking about or working with the Crisis Center she is also a Teen Ambassador for SpeakUp5K and Strokes for Hope Swimmer.
Emily Surak becomes the 340th 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 $17.1 million to more than 400 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.