TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Karen Gliddon as the 41st Lightning Community Hero of the 2016-17 season during the first period of tonight's game versus the Buffalo Sabres. Gliddon, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to 1Voice, Erin Kay Flatley Memorial Foundation, and Lawrence Martucci Benefit Corp.
In 2008, Gliddon lost her son after a three-year battle with Leukemia. Gliddon recognized the need for a source of comfort for families spending extended periods of time in Intensive Care Units. To help these families, Gliddon began assembling P.A.C.Ks (Parent Accessory Care Kits) to be stored at local hospitals and given to families in need. The first recipient hospital was Arnold Palmer Children's Hospital in Orlando and her efforts have expanded to additional Florida Hospitals in the Tampa Bay area, along with one hospital in Gainesville.
Gliddon started Paul's Projects to "enlighten the community to the urgency and importance of supporting parents of critically ill children and to nurture these families as every moment together means everything." Her efforts have touched so many throughout the Tampa Bay community, including Girl Scout Troops who have taken the initiative to host community collections and assemble PACKs for deliveries. In addition, various groups of children have hosted donation drives for items included in the PACKs. As a result of hearing about Paul's Project Mission, Clearwater High School students involved in the Interact Club were inspired to make holiday cards personally and drop them off while singing Christmas Carols bedside at Tampa General Hospital. Gliddon's joy comes from knowing that she can help comfort families spending countless hours at the bedside of their children.
Gliddon becomes the 271st 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 $13.65 million to more than 300 different non-profits in the Greater Tampa Bay area. Last summer, the Vinik's announced that the community hero program will give away another $10-million over the next five seasons.