TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Lis Casanova as the ninth Lightning Community Hero this season during the first period of tonight's game versus the Columbus Blue Jackets. Casanova, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate half the money to the Pinellas Park Library Cooperative, while the other half will go to a scholarship for her own education.
When Lis was nine years old she struggled with nephrotic syndrome, which is a kidney disorder that causes the body to excrete too much protein. This caused her swelling, exhaustion and a future full of prescribed medication. Casanova was pushed into homelessness during high school, which is when she joined an organization called Starting Right, Now (SRN). SRN offers homeless youths services including housing, tutoring, transportation and volunteer opportunities. Lis received tutoring, but also helped by tutoring other students for about eight hours a week. She has complied over 200 volunteer hours through local organizations, and as Lis nears graduation she has recognized that serving others must be part of her future career.
Casanova is now a senior at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg campus and has taken notice to the poverty issues plaguing South St. Pete. With this donation, she plans on implementing two community service initiatives to aid the James Weldon Library. The first one is called the Create 2 Innovate Lab, which will allow the library to merge literacy and the arts through a variety of media including computers, music arrangement software, film editing software, poetry, sewing machines and more. This looks to improve literacy and creativity in a fun, non-academic way. The second initiative will be the enhancement of the African American Heritage and Culture collection at the library, so residents and visitors of St. Pete have an opportunity to learn about African American culture, history and heritage.
Casanova becomes the 280th 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 $14.1 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.