TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Nicholas Altieri as the 17th Lightning Community Hero this season during the first period of tonight's game versus the Ottawa Senators. Altieri, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to GiGi's Playhouse, Tampa.
Nick was born with Down syndrome, but he's never allowed this to limit him. He was the gold medalist in the Special Olympics Florida State Aquatics, competes in track and field and is currently employed at the Hillsborough County Public Defenders Office in an administrative capacity. He strives for other individuals to not feel limited by their disability, and does so by actively volunteering at GiGi's Playhouse. This is a national network of Down Syndrome Achievement Centers with the mission to change the way the world views Down syndrome though community campaigns and educational programs. From volunteering at GiGi's Playhouse, he spearheaded the formation of the Advocacy and Inspiration Team as part of the Outreach Committee and recruites teens and adults with Down syndrome to join.
GiGi's Playhouse will open a location in Tampa that will serve the estimated 3,400 individuals with Down syndrome living in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco Counties. This initiative will offer one-on-one math and literacy tutoring with curriculum and materials customized to the unique learning style of individuals with Down syndrome. Therapeutic and fitness based programs will work to build self-esteem, strengthen low muscle tone and advance speech and motor skills. In addition, career and life-skills programs for adults will empower individuals to pursue a more independent lifestyle. Nick has already started to formulate programs for the Playhouse that he will mentor and participate in, such as culinary classes, where he intends to advance his own needs but also teach others.
Nicholas Altieri becomes the 288th 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 $14.5 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.