TAMPA – Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, along with his wife Penny, announced this evening at the Community Heroes Celebration Event at T. Pepin Hospitality Centre that the Vinik Family Foundation, in partnership with the Lightning Foundation, will make another five-season, $10 million pledge to Tampa Bay non-profits. The program honors grass roots Heroes from the seven-county who are using their lives to make a difference in the community.
The new pledge allows the Lightning to continue celebrating Heroes at each regular season Lightning home game who have used their passion and determination to help others in need in the community. In addition to recognizing Community Heroes for their contributions as it has for the past five years, the Hero program is adding a new category of Heroes and, on weekend games, will celebrate inspiring public-spirited young people. The goal of this new portion of the program is to identify young leaders and “change-makers” in local high schools, colleges and universities who are driving social change in the local community. They will be evaluated not only for their past service and volunteerism, but also for their creative and impactful ideas to help others in need. The more “traditional” heroes will be honored on week night games during each of the next five seasons.
“Penny and I are excited to announce this extension of the Lightning Community Heroes program,” said Vinik, upon making the announcement this evening. “We continue to be inspired by all the great work performed by Tampa Bay’s grass roots heroes and we are honored to be able to help them and their missions. Additionally, we look forward to regularly recognizing and rewarding more of our young people as they drive societal change and improvement.”
The Lightning’s community hero program will continue to honor Heroes during the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. To date, the club has honored 220 Heroes from seven area counties since Jeff and Penny Vinik introduced the program in 2011-12 with a $10 million, five-season commitment to the Tampa Bay community. Through five seasons, the Lightning Foundation has granted $11.15 million to more than 300 different non-profits in the Greater Tampa Bay area.