TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Gerald Hansen as the 30th Lightning Community Hero of the 2016-17 season during the first period of tonight's game versus the Carolina Hurricanes. Hansen, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Paint Your Heart Out Tampa, Habitat for Humanity Hillsborough, ALS, Support the Troops, and the Children's Home.
In 1983, United States Air Force Master Sergeant Gerald Hansen received orders to be stationed at MacDill Air Force Base. It was here in Tampa that Hansen committed himself to making a positive impact on the community. Hansen is most wellknown as the volunteer Executive Director for Paint Your Heart Out Tampa (PYHOT), an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that benefits low-income and elderly citizens of Tampa by improving the exterior of their homes. Each year, Hansen freely gives more than 1,250 hours of time to the organization. Hansen has also successfully raised more than $14,000 for the Greater Tampa Bay Walk to Defeat ALS; was involved in three annual cleanups of Bayshore Boulevard on MacDill AFB; served as the Chairperson of the Preschool Education Board; and helped build playgrounds on MacDill AFB and in Clearwater.
Through Hansen's 28 years of leadership with PYHOT, the organization has improved the Tampa Bay community by painting 2,800 homes with the help of 70,000 volunteers who donated over 504,000 volunteer hours. Hansen's hard work and dedication has enabled him to foster relationships with homeowners, volunteers and sponsors who donate the thousands of supplies necessary each year for paint day. Since starting at PYHOT, Hansen has worked as an unpaid program coordinator and executive director, volunteering about 1,250 hours each year. Aside from his work with PYHOT, Hansen is an avid supporter of the fight to end ALS, a cause that hits close to home for Hansen, who lost his wife of 30 years, Vickie, to the disease in 2011. Hansen raised over $14,000 through the 2011 Greater Tampa Bay Walk to Defeat ALS, the second-highest amount ever raised for the event. Hansen also raised over $10,000 after organizing the "Tee Up for Vickie" golf tournament.
Hansen becomes the 259th 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 $13.1 million to more than 300 different non-profits in the Greater Tampa Bay area. Last summer, the Vinik's announced that the community hero program will give away another $10-million over the next five seasons.
Video: Lightning honor Hansen as Hero