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by Staff Writer / Tampa Bay Lightning
The AFS Club of the St. Pete Times Forum was buzzing with excitement as the Lightning Foundation and the Tampa Bay Lightning closed out their season of giving with the annual Community Grant Awards and Donor Recognition Reception. In addition to providing 20 local organizations with financial grants worth a total of $148,000, the Lightning Foundation also awarded the first annual Dave Andreychuk Scholarship to two senior high school hockey players.

The winners of the Dave Andreychuk Scholarship, chosen for their outstanding service in the community and strong grades, were announced as Steven Ford, who plays for George Jenkins High, and Kyle Wantland, who plays for Durant High.
In order to receive financial grants, each applicant was asked to detail its organization, a proposed program or project and a description of how it qualifies under the Lightning Foundation’s funding guidelines. Two organizations who received their second grant from the Lightning Foundation were Connected by 25 and the Pediatric Cancer Foundation.
Showing the value of the Lightning Foundation’s grant program, both organizations received their second grant due in part to the success the organizations experienced through projects funded by their initial grants.
The Pediatric Cancer Foundation, a local group dedicated to pediatric cancer research.
 “We used the first grant for our launch of the Sunshine Project and we submitted for our new grant by showing the progress that we’ve made in 18 months,” said Barbara Rebold of the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. “We’ve had three clinical trials, which is huge. Typically it takes three years to get one clinical trial. We love to be involved with the Lightning, Brad [Richards] and Marty [St. Louis] as they’ve always been very supportive of what we’re doing.”
Diane Zambito of Connected by 25 echoed Rebold’s sentiments when talking about her organization. Connected by 25 works with young adults who are aging out of foster care and need help with educational and occupational endeavors after the state no longer provides them with resources and services.
“What this does is it really gives a place to kids who have no place,” Zambito said. “People don’t understand that the youth we work with aging out of foster care are 16 to 19 years old and have a reading and math level of first, second or third grade. There’s not a place for them to go, and it may be by choice or circumstance.
“In the first year we had a lot of young people coming to us saying ‘I really want to go to school, so here I am,’ so we started tutoring,” Zambito continued. “We have capacity of 15 full-time students and from the day we opened the program with our certified teachers - which we couldn’t have done without the Lightning Foundation - we’ve been at full capacity.”
Including the 20 grants, the Dave Andreychuk Scholarship and all other donations, the Lightning Foundation donated $543,000 in cash to deserving local organizations during the 2006-07 season.

The Foundation’s Board of Directors selected the following organizations to receive grants:

The Arts Center - The grant will partially fund a free interactive art area at all the Tampa Bay Lightning home games. Thank you to the co-sponsor: Metro PCS.

Attention Home, Inc. - The grant will fund the renovation and restoration of three docks at a group home for boys and young men with developmental disabilities.

AT&T Greater Orlando Telecom Pioneers - The grant will fund two “smart boards” for hearing impaired students at Lake Sybelia Elementary School.

Bess the Book Bus, Inc. - The grant will fund a mobile literacy outreach program, providing books to underprivileged children and adults in the Tampa Bay area.

Cby25 (Connected By 25) - The grant will assist in funding the “Connection with Education” program, providing a teacher to tutor youth who are aging out of foster care in math, reading, and language arts.

ChairScholars Foundation, Inc. - The grant will provide funding for two, four-year college scholarships to disabled students.
Children’s Cancer Center - The grant will fund Lil’ Tales and an Oncology Support Group, providing educational and psychosocial support to families and children with cancer.

Children’s Heart Foundation - The grant will fund a congenital heart disease database project to assist in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of congenital heart defects.

Clothes to Kids, Inc. - The grant will provide funding for full “back to school” wardrobes for 120 low-income Pinellas County school children.

The Florida Orchestra, Inc. - The grant will pay for the general costs to present youth orchestra concerts to students in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties.

Hillsborough Education Foundation, Teaching Tools for Hillsborough Schools - The grant will give funding for school supplies and materials for economically disadvantaged students in Hillsborough County Schools.

Hillsborough Head Start Community Foundation, Inc. - The grant will fund three literacy events for 225 low-income children and their families.

Laurel Nokomis School, Sarasota County - The grant will provide funding for an occupational therapy sensory room for autistic students, providing them with a positive environment to help enrich their cognitive abilities.

Pediatric Cancer Foundation - The grant will fund The Sunshine Project, a pediatric cancer research program.

SERVE – School Enrichment Resource Volunteers in Education - The grant will fund the Speaker’s Bureau program that schedules more than 1,500 presentations annually in Hillsborough County Schools.

The Spring of Tampa Bay, Inc. - The grant will fund the “Peace in Action” program for 60 adolescents and their parents.

St. Francis Foundation, Inc., The Village at Everyday Blessings - The grant will fund the purchase of a donor management and fundraising database system.

St. Peter Claver Catholic School - The grant will fund three scholarships for the 2007-08 school year.

Tampa Bay Lightning Sled Hockey Program - The grant will fund equipment, travel expenses and support for sled hockey in Tampa Bay.

Voices for Children of Hillsborough County, Inc. - Guardian Ad Litem Program - The grant will fund psychological evaluations for children in the Hillsborough County Court System.
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