The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Eric Johnson as the 14th Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight’s game against the Ottawa Senators. Johnson, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Trinity College of Florida, Habitat for Humanity of East and Central Pasco County, Pasco Education Foundation, Sertoma Speech and Hearing Foundation of Florida and the Center of Independence.
Matt Carle joined Jeff and Penny Vinik to present Eric Johnson with a check for $50,000.
Johnson grew up poor in rural Hillsborough County, one of eight kids and the first in his family to graduate from high school. In his third year as Marine Special Ops, a training accident broke Johnson’s back. Discharged after two years in rehab that left him permanently disabled with a degenerative spinal column, he realized that God had another plan for him. Johnson graduated from the Trinity College of Florida, earning his Master’s in History at USF, and then started teaching in high-poverty schools.
By expanding his student’s horizons through technology, hands-on projects, community service and historic trips, Johnson helps develop young minds in numerous ways. He was the Florida History Teacher of the Year in 2013 and also won the Nobel Distinguished Educator award. Johnson has a unique gift of putting caring into action through projects and thousands of volunteer hours. He engages his students to do fundraisers to help instill entrepreneurial skills and help offset trip expenses.