The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Melody and Ben Rodriguez as Lightning Community Heroes during the first period of tonight's game against the Buffalo Sabres. The Rodriguezes, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Beth-El Migrant Missions, Children's Board Heart Gallery of Tampa Bay, Daddies Girls and Kingdom Communities.
Melody and Ben Rodriguez are extremely important people to some of the most vulnerable children in our community. They make the defining difference in the lives of children, whether a child thrives to be all they can be or are dealing with troubles with some of life's hardest struggles. More than 12 years ago, they became foster parents to a young child who exhibited weakness. When the child began showing signs of autism, the couple decided to become better equipped to meet her needs. After extensive training they became medical foster parents so they could continue to care for their child.
They have since taken on the care of 17 foster children and have adopted two kids themselves. The Rodriguezes have placed the special needs of children with shaken baby syndrome, traumatic brain injuries, epilepsy, Down syndrome, heart conditions and other afflictions before their own interests with the purpose of offering a caring and healing environment. They evenly divide the duties for caring for each of the children, whether it's taking them to doctors' appointments, making meals or reading the kids bedtime stories. Their boundless love and unwavering determination to heal keeps them fighting for the full and greatest potential of every child they touch.