TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Karisya Moran-Adames as the 13th Lightning Community Hero this season during the first period of tonight's game versus the San Jose Sharks. Adames, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate half the money to the Kiwanis Club of Greater Brandon in order to expand the Project Smile program, while the other half will go to a scholarship for her own education.
Karisya, a senior at Riverview High School, has volunteered approximately 300 hours as the president of her school's Key Club chapter. Some of the organizations she's worked with include the Kiwanis Club, Feeding Tampa Bay, Keeping Tampa Bay Beautiful, ECHO and various elementary schools in the Brandon area. Through her volunteer work, Adames realized that a big issue facing our community is the lack of proper nutrition and food available to families and children. She decided to volunteer and partner with programs focused on these issues and find a way to expand their efforts.
Project Smile started as a service initiative six years ago when Kiwanis members decided to tackle the issue of childhood nutrition head on. The Kiwanis Club has sponsored a weekend backpack program at Gibsonton Elementary School, which is a Renaissance school where more than 95% of the children qualify for free or reduced breakfast and lunch. This program gives "Smile Club" members pre-packaged food and bread to break the weekend hunger gap, which allows kids to stay on grade level and make steady progress in the classroom by coming to school ready to learn instead of hungry and lethargic. Currently over 20,000 meals are distributed each year, and Karisya plans to use this donation to expand Project Smile to a second Renaissance School.
Karisya Moran-Adames becomes the 284th 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 $14.3 million to more than 300 different non-profits 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.