TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Martha Minahan as the 40th Lightning Community Hero of the 2016-17 season during the first period of tonight's game versus the Dallas Stars. Minahan, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the Hillsborough Education Foundation.
In 1986, doctors diagnosed Martha's husband Bill with kidney failure, but through the generosity of a donor family, Bill received a new kidney. This crisis helped raise an opportunity for the Minahan's to become advocates for transplant patients and organ donation. After sharing their story throughout the Tampa Bay area and across the country at speaking engagements and events, Martha helped establish the ORGANizers to help raise awareness of the need for organ donation. For 28 years, the Minahan's helped many who faced transplants and inspired thousands to become organ donors. Bill finally succumbed to his kidney disease in December of 2013, but Martha continues to invest time and energy in helping the community. To support and educate others suffering with end-stage kidney disease, Bill and Martha served on the Board of the local Chapter of the American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP) and founded the Annual Celebrity Luncheon to raise funds for patients in need.
With the support of many of their former students, Martha has reached out to hundreds of people and raised more than $100,000 for transplant patients in need of funding. Martha also serves on the LifeLink Legacy Board of Directors and is committed to raising money for transplant patients. Annually, the Bill Minahan Award recognizes Hillsborough County high school football players who best display extraordinary perseverance, leadership, selflessness, passion, loyalty, excellence on the field and service to others. The award focuses specifically on rewarding the student who has served as the best role model for his teammates through deeds and actions. Minahan's passion and commitment to make a difference have made Tampa Bay a more caring and aware community. The winners and their special guests are feted at a dinner on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Minahan becomes the 269th Lightning Community Hero 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 $13.55 million to more than 300 different non-profits in the Greater Tampa Bay area. Last summer, the Vinik's announced that the community hero program will give away another $10-million over the next five seasons.