TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Maggie Fitzsimmons as the second Lightning Community Hero of the 2016-17 season during the first period of tonight's game versus the New Jersey Devils. Fitzsimmons, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate $25,000 to the Meals on Wheels of Tampa and receive a scholarship grant of $25,000 to assist in her educational pursuits. She is the first Community Hero of Tomorrow after the new program was introduced last spring.
In addition to recognizing Community Heroes for their contributions as it has for the past five years, the Hero program will begin celebrating inspiring public-spirited young people during every weekend home game. The goal of this new portion of the program is to identify young leaders and "change-makers" in local high schools, colleges and universities who are driving social change in the local community. These students will be evaluated for their past service and volunteerism, along with their creative and impactful ideas to help others in need
Over the past year, Fitzsimmons has volunteered with many different organizations throughout the Tampa area. The Plant High School senior worked together with nine other students from various Tampa high schools to form a High School Leadership Board with Meals on Wheels. Together, the group created the program "Water on Wheels" to assist Meals on Wheels recipients and teach them the importance of hydration. The finished project succeeded in distributing over 700 eight-ounce, reusable water bottles, along with printed information about the significance of proper hydration.
Fitzsimmons' motivation to create Water on Wheels stemmed from watching her grandfather receive assistance from Meals on Wheels. Fitzsimmons and her father would make regular trips to the grocery store to buy cases of water for her grandfather, as water was not included through Meals on Wheels. To raise money for Water on Wheels, the High School Leadership Board organized a "Student Music Fest" that raised over $2,500. This year, Fitzsimmons hopes to distribute 720 water bottles weekly to those receiving hot meals from Meals on Wheels. Fitzsimmons plans to organize fundraisers similar to last year's Student Music Fest and continue to look for new ways to improve the program.
Fitzsimmons becomes the first Lightning Community Hero of Tomorrow 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 $11.4 million to more than 300 different non-profits in the Greater Tampa Bay area.