TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Emma Skantze as the first Lightning Community Hero of Tomorrow this season during the first period of tonight's game versus the St. Louis Blues. Skantze, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate half the money to Metropolitan Ministries, while the other half will go to a scholarship for her future education.
Emma has been playing piano for 12 years and took on the violin three years ago. From her experience, she realized what a positive impact music has had on her life and how many kids don't have the same opportunities or access to instruments and teachers. Because of this, Skantze plans to create a music appreciation program with Metropolitan Ministries. The donated funds will be used to purchase instruments including: recorders, guitars, a drum set, violins, an electric piano and more. This initiative will offer children who are below the poverty line a new hobby, an escape and a way to express themselves. It is her dream that the kids develop a passion for music just like she has.
The music appreciation program will launch this year at the Metropolitan Ministries Holiday Tent. Emma will provide instruments, instruction and performances for the hundreds of children who attend. Following the holiday season, the plan will be expanded to offer regular music classes for those living at the non-profit. Additionally, Skantze founded the Helping Hand Benefit Concert program. Through this, she has organized seven concerts for Metropolitan Ministries and has raised over $35,000 in the process. Since starting these concerts, the organization's campus has been able to expand and help more families across the Tampa Bay area by providing food, shelter, clothing, job training and daycare.
Skantze becomes the 275th 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 $13.85 million to more than 300 different non-profits 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.