TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Paul and Suzanne Avery as the 19th Lightning Community Heroes of the year during the first period of tonight's game against the Montreal Canadiens. The Avery's, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA).
Tyler Johnson (right) joined Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and his wife Penny (left) to present Paul and Suzanne Avery with a check for $50,000.
The Avery's took the meaning of love and family to a new level when they found out both their daughters were diagnosed with Friedreich's Ataxia, a debilitating neuro-muscular disease. They committed their resources and time to help fight this rare disease, not just for their daughters, but for thousands more who suffer from this horrible illness. Paul resigned from his job and started a new organization, FARA, which is devoted to finding a cure for the disease.
Paul and Suzanne have collaborated with hundreds of families, researchers, scientists and businesses to make their charity come to life. They both work tirelessly to find a cure for the 15,000 people worldwide who suffer from this disease. Friedreich's Ataxia was first named 50 years ago, and it wasn't until 15 years ago when the Avery's started FARA that they have made tremendous scientific progress for curing thousands of people. Those that suffer from Friedreich's Ataxia are limited to a wheelchair and eventually face terminal consequences due to heart and muscle failure.