TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Jose Valiente as the first Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight's game against the Philadelphia Flyers. Valiente, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Junior Achievement and the Boy Scouts of America. The Lightning Foundation continues the hero program for its fifth season of a pledge made by Lightning Owner Jeff Vinik in 2010 to donate $10 million over five seasons.
As Chairman of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, Valiente was a driving force behind implementing a drop-out prevention program for eighth grade classrooms throughout Hillsborough County known as Diploma-See Day. Dipoloma-See Day is devoted exclusively to learning about the value of a high school diploma and post-secondary education, along with the doors it can open to economic opportunity. 24,949 Tampa Bay Youth have learned the value of education to help them realize their hopes and dreams through a partnership between Junior Achievement and Hillsborough Public Schools.
As a result of his tireless effort to improve the Bay area, Valiente initiated the Latin Scholarship Fund, which awards 125 scholarships annually and has awarded $4.1 million in state-matching funds. Valiente sees adversity and challenges as opportunities to learn, grow and overcome. He sees Diploma-See Day as a part of his legacy to the Tampa Bay community. Valiente's long-range goal is for Tampa Bay to become the most highly educated community and work force in the country, attracting other employers, workers, scholars and entrepreneurs to the community.