TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Jerry and Ruth Bell as the 23rd Lightning Community Heroes this season during the first period of tonight's game versus the Carolina Hurricanes. The Bell's, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to D.E.L.T.A, the Florida Hospital Foundation, Life Link, the Tampa Chapter of the Links and the USF Foundation.
The Bell's have served in key leadership roles for several local and national non-profit's, professional sports organizations and education related governance boards. In his tenure as a Hillsborough Community College (HCC), Board of Trustee, Jerry helped to stabilize the administrative leadership and contributed to instituting a strategic plan that resulted in much of the HCC success that is realized today. During Ruth's tenure as President of The Links, she helped to gather positive female and male role models annually to mentor children throughout the community.
They created a Ruth and Jerry Bell endowment that has awarded USF scholarships to over 100 students. They also work in collaboration with the BLN and have awarded scholarships to over 80 students, per year, in partnership with USF. The Bell's have represented retired NFL players who are now able to receive better recognition, compensation and medical care. Both have also volunteered and served in leadership roles with the American Cancer Society; MOSI; Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel, Boys and Girls Clubs and Tampa Crossroads; and worked on various service projects through their Greek organizations (Delta Sigma Theta and Kappa Alpha Psi);.
Jerry and Ruth Bell become the 346th Lightning Community Heroes 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 $17.4 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.