The Tampa Bay Lightning honored John Johnson as the 40th Lightning Community Hero this season during the first period of tonight's game versus the Boston Bruins. Johnson, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate to Project UpLift, JCC, Young Israel of Tampa, the Skills Center, Homeless Emergency Project, Howard Blake Academic Foundation/Urban Teaching Academy and Bible Truth Ministries.
Johnson currently teaches 8th grade history, physical education and health at Largo Middle School. In 1995, he started Project Uplift Tampa, Inc. (PUT) as an after school tutoring and homework assistance program. The program began in Lakeland with Florida Southern College and local middle schools and eventually expanded to the Palmetto Beach area in Tampa, Florida with the help of the athletes at University of Tampa, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Mutiny. PUT's primary mission is to work with schools, colleges, churches, professional sports teams, and existing community groups to assist in the total development of at-risk children so they become well-rounded and contributing members of our society.
John's program provides opportunities for undeserved elementary, middle and high school students to participate in extracurricular academic, athletic and fine arts activities. PUT's core value is to build self-esteem among children who demonstrate low performance and behavioral problems in school. These student's coaches serve as positive male role models by keeping an eye on report cards, any behavioral problems and making sure the student reaches the 3.0 grade point average goal. During the past 2 decades, John forged successful partnerships with Oak Grove Middle School, Greenwood MLK Center, Development Communities of Tampa, and The Palmetto Beach Neighborhood Association. In April of 2018, PUT hosted "The Charlie Bradley Roundball Classic" where local high school players and celebrities played a charity basketball game at University of Tampa to raise monies for basketball/character/youth programming.
John Johnson becomes the 365th 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 $18.25 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.