The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Gary Wishnatzki as a Lightning Community Hero during the first period of tonight's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Wishnatzki, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the Redlands Christian Migrant Association.
Migrant farmworkers in America often endure poverty, turmoil and exploitation. Wishnatzki, owner of Wishnatzki Farms, has helped them gain an education instead. In the 1990s, Wishnatzki started a Florida Strawberry Growers Association scholarship fund that has helped 21 children of migrants attend the University of South Florida. In 2006, he and his wife, Therese, founded Wishnatzki Family Migrant Scholars, an endowment of $343,082 that will perpetually support migrant children pursuing graduate degrees. To augment those funds, Wishnatzki also started an annual tennis tournament in Tampa.
In 2009, he added a new beneficiary, the Redlands Christian Migrant Association. Wishnatzki embraced RCMA's efforts to build a middle school next to its acclaimed charter school, RCMA Wimauma Academy, in south Hillsborough County. Some 99% of the students will be low-income Hispanics. Today, he is the largest contributor to the construction fund. Wishnatzki's tennis tournament is adding $80,000 a year.