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Lightning Foundation's Community Heroes program reaches $10 million milestone

by Staff Writer / Tampa Bay Lightning

TAMPA BAY – The Lightning Community Heroes Program, backed by the Vinik Family Foundation and the Lightning Foundation, will reach the $10 million milestone on Monday, December 28 when the Tampa Bay Lightning host the Montreal Canadiens at Amalie Arena. This comes five years after Lightning chairman and governor Jeff Vinik, along with his wife Penny, pledged $10 million to Tampa Bay area non-profits over five seasons, money which was to be granted through deserving grass roots community heroes in Tampa Bay.

At each of the Lightning’s home regular season and playoff games over the past five seasons, the Lightning Foundation has been honored to celebrate a local hero and donate $50,000 to the non-profit charity (or charities) of his or her choice. During the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, the Lightning Foundation increased the amount and donated $100,000 to each hero. On Monday night, the program celebrates its 197th community hero as Sister Claire LeBouef is recognized for her work with New Life Village, New Life Dwelling Place and Everyday Blessings. To date, 315 unique non-profits in seven counties have received money through the program.

“Being the owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning enables me and the Lightning organization the opportunity, if not the responsibility, to be good citizens and leaders in our community,” said Vinik. “Penny and I were delighted to make this $10 million commitment to Tampa Bay, a community which we are pleased to call our home.

“Five years later, we are so very proud to see how successful the Lightning Community Heroes program has become and we continue to be honored to present our deserving heroes with funding for their non-profits. The hero stories are inspirational to us all and we look forward to ‘re-imagining’ the hero program beyond 2015-16.”

The hero program works closely with another pillar of the Lightning’s commitment to the Tampa Bay community: the C.H.A.R.G.E. (Contributing Hours Across our Region through our Generous Employees) program. Through C.H.A.R.G.E., which also was established five years ago, the Lightning’s employees and partners contribute more than 5,000 volunteer hours each year to local not-for-profit charities and those that they serve.

Community heroes since 2011-12 have been selected by the Lightning’s Community Advisory Committee, an independent team of community leaders and Lightning Season Ticket Members from throughout the Bay area. Once selected, heroes are asked to designate a representative non-profit (or non-profits) to receive a grant from the Vinik Family Foundation. The heroes are then honored by the Viniks and the Lightning Foundation in Amalie Arena during the first period of every Lightning home game with a video presentation read by a Lightning player. He or she is welcomed to enjoy the game in a suite, provided by Jabil Circuit, with family, friends and past heroes.

Lightning fans are encouraged to log on to to receive additional details about the program, and nominate deserving individuals who are making the Tampa Bay area a better place to live, work and play. Several heroes still need to be selected for the 2015-16 season. The deadline for submitting nominations is January 15, 2016.

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