Jeff Vinik, Chairman and Governor of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and his wife, Penny, are donating more than $10 million through the Lightning Foundation to deserving community heroes and charity partners in Tampa Bay over the next five years, the organization announced today at Metropolitan Ministries in Tampa. This announcement by Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment, parent company of the Lightning, is one of a series focusing on a complete brand and business transformation under Vinik’s ownership. Vinik, who purchased the Lightning in March, 2010, pledged at that time to make the franchise world class and a leader in the community.
"When we purchased the Lightning, Penny and I made a long term commitment to the Tampa Bay community," Vinik said. "We intend to make this region our home, and, our ownership of the Lightning enables us to have the visibility to become active philanthropic leaders in the community. Today's announcement begins this process, and we look forward to working with the Lightning Foundation in the coming year to touch lives and inspire others."
More than $2 million will be granted by the Lightning Foundation each season, utilizing two different programs established by the organization. The first program, titled “Lightning Community Partners: Giving Back Through the Power of Partnerships,” will present four $200,000 grants to major charities in the Tampa Bay area for each of the next five years beginning with the 2011-12 hockey season.
The second program, titled “Lightning Community Heroes: Honoring Tampa Bay’s Community Heroes,” will present 25 $50,000 awards to individuals and their representative 501 (c) 3 organizations for each of the next five years beginning with the 2011-12 hockey season.
These heroes will be selected by a subcommittee of the Lightning Foundation throughout the season after a nomination process allowing anyone in Tampa Bay the opportunity to recommend a hero in the community for his or her good works.
The new committee, including season ticket holders, and appointed by the Board of Directors of the Lightning Foundation, will select the winners. Each hero will receive a check at a designated Tampa Bay Lightning home game and be honored with a video presentation in the arena.
The organization is also pledging 4,000 hours of volunteerism from its full-time staff under the company’s “All In For Our Community” program each calendar year with a goal touching lives and inspiring others to give back to the community, even if people can not do so financially.
“We are blessed to be in a leadership position in Tampa Bay and through the power of giving and volunteerism, we hope to motivate others to join with us in building up our community,” said Tod Leiweke, Chief Executive Officer of the Lightning and the St. Pete Times Forum.