TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Kyle and Robyn Matthews as the eighth Lightning Community Heroes of the 2017-18 season during the first period of tonight's game versus the New York Rangers. The Matthews', who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to a non-profit called Beat Neuroblastoma (Nb), where Kyle serves as the executive director.
Back in 2010 Kyle and Robyn lost their two-year-old son, Ezra, to neuroblastoma cancer. Soon after, they founded a non-profit called Because of Ezra. In 2016 they helped to merge four sister non-profits from around the country into a single national group called Beat Nb. In its seven years, Beat Nb has built a national research group, Beat Childhood Cancer, which now has operations in 35 hospitals across the country including Johns Hopkins All Children's in Tampa Bay. Beat Nb and Beat Childhood Cancer have launched 19 clinical trials, bringing the neuroblastoma survival rate from 60% to over 80%. Children across the country are living longer because of the Matthews' involvement and leadership at Beat Nb.
Kyle and Robyn have helped launch the first ever national clinical study approved for all incurable childhood cancers, and a preventable trial for patients with high risk neuroblastoma in remission. They also have assisted in funding a drug called DFMO, which is showing great promise in stopping kids from relapsing from this disease. All children with neuroblastoma in the Tampa Bay community benefit from this work. In addition, the Matthews family regularly works with local and state-wide groups to try to change how the healthcare system works for our kids.
The Matthews' become the 279th Lightning Community Heroes 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 $14.05 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.