The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Melissa Helms as the fifth Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight’s game against the Boston Bruins. Helms, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the Pediatric Cancer Foundation and First Presbyterian Church.
Teddy Purcell joined Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and his wife Penny to present Melissa Helms with a check for $50,000.
In the early 1990s, Helms had to face the nightmare that her daughter was diagnosed with kidney cancer at nine weeks old. Learning and living this horrific news, she co-founded the Pediatric Cancer Foundation (PCF) and committed her time and energy to finding a cure. She has grown this foundation from a simple dream to it being a nationally recognized 501c3 charity that has contributed more than $6.5-million to research since 1991.
The most remarkable part of the charity is helping children who are suffering with cancer. Helms has spearheaded a collaborative research initiative called the Pediatric Cancer Foundation’s Sunshine Project. Thanks to her leadership, this project has assembled leading doctors and researchers from the country’s finest hospitals and has launched five clinical trials at 11 hospitals in seven years. These trials aim to find less toxic, more targeted therapies for children who are battling the most aggressive forms of cancer. Helm’s personal experience with childhood cancer lit a fire within her to help find a cure for this terrible disease.