TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Gary Parker as the 39th Lightning Community Hero this season during the first period of tonight's game versus the Arizona Coyotes. Parker, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate to the Legal Aid of Manasota.
Parker was an attorney who moved to Florida with plans of retirement. He quickly realised that he missed practicing law and in 2013 was admitted as an Emeritus Attorney under the Pro Bono Participation Program.
Over the past six years, Gary provided nearly 4,500 pro bono hours, which equates to well over a million dollars in donated services, while representing the poor in Florida's Twelfth Judicial Circuit under the auspices of Legal Aid of Manasota. He has helped hundreds of disadvantaged clients with Social Security, housing and medical legal issues and initiated the Medical Legal program at Legal Aid of Manasota. This program primarily assists cancer patients with legal issues that they face while fighting cancer.
Gary gives legal aid and medical legal clients a sense of hope, hope they can overcome their obstacles and move forward with their lives. Since he first started with Legal Aid he has primarily focused on assisting clients who have been diagnosed with cancer. His vision has been to provide legal services related to loss of income due to their medical diagnosis, helping families stay in their homes, obtaining adequate health care services and assisting in making end of life decisions, so these clients can survive with less stress and focus their energy on getting better. Parker also collaborates with Family Promise of South Sarasota County, Jewish Family and Children's Services and Community AIDS Network. He is a founding member of the Cancer Resource Network made up of local social service agencies whose mission is to share community resources to help individuals find services that will aid them in their personal cancer journey.
Gary Parker becomes the 364th 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 $18.2 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.