TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Patti Sanchez as the 33rd Lightning Community Hero this season during the first period of tonight's game versus the Los Angeles Kings. Sanchez, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate to the MacDonald Center of Tampa Bay.
Deaf since the age of seven when she lost her hearing to complications from measles, Patti is a walking, talking and a fine example of overcoming challenges with brilliant success. As an advocate for deaf and hard of hearing people, her days are dedicated to finding employment opportunities for deaf individuals and educating employers on the benefits of diversifying their workplace. Sanchez works tirelessly with the goal to change stereotypical employer attitudes, unconscious bias and outright employment discrimination. She educates people in American Sign Language, continuously providing free classes in four libraries around the county and enthusiastically mentors young people.
Close to 100 deaf people are working today because of Patti and her efforts. Patti joined MacDonald Training Center in 2017 through grant funding from The Able Trust for HEAR, "Hearing Education, Advancement and Recruitment," a major initiative to find jobs for TampaBay citizens who are deaf and hard of hearing. Patti volunteers as an Advisory Council Member of the Hillsborough County Public Schools, a Regional Coordinator for Florida Hands and Voices, and a committee member of CORE (Community Opportunities to Realizing Employment). She also encourages companies to increase their employment of people with barriers to employment by providing Diversity Training.
Patti Sanchez becomes the 357th 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 $17.85 million to more than 400 different nonprofits 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.