TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Kim Kuruzovich as the 36th Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Kuruzovich, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the LiFT Academy (www.liftacademy.org) and Best Buddies (www.bestbuddies.com).
Matt Carle (left) and Lightning owner Jeff Vinik (right) present a $50,000 check to Kim Kuruzovich
Kuruzovich was a special education teacher for 19 years and during that time she was so passionate about helping others that she decided to take it one step further, creating an entire school dedicated to children with disabilities. Kuruzovich, along with other teachers, have forfeited a salary to make sure that the best interest for the children they look after is always at the highest standards.
A mother of two, Kuruzovich has a child of her own that has developmental delays and special needs. She started LiFT Academy, along with two other mothers, to serve special need children from grades K-12. Kuruzovich acts as principal, curriculum specialist, teacher and more. LiFT Academy originally had a commitment of nine students but continues to attract more and more students each year and plans to open a post-secondary education program in the near future.