TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Sandy Kearney as the eleventh Lightning Community Hero this season during the first period of tonight's game versus the Florida Panthers. Kearney, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Angels Against Abuse.
Kearny has worked for seven years as a Guardian Ad Litem and works diligently to support children in Pinellas, Pasco and now Hillsborough Counties' foster care programs. Sandy is also the Executive Director of her own all volunteer 501c3, Angels Against Abuse. Angels is a membership based group that supports children in the foster care system in many ways, ranging from throwing a Mad Hatter tea party and fulfilling Christmas wishes to providing necessity and comfort items to kids forcefully removed from their homes. Recently they have created an Angel Visitation Care Center, a facility available for case workers, children in foster care, law enforcement, and families to have a safe, child-friendly place to do the hard work of family re-unification
Sandy also created an annual Child Advocacy Expo to encourage collaboration and awareness to over 50 area non-profit organizations that provide services to children in need. Sandy provides hundreds of Angel Bags each year to children who are forcibly removed from their homes and placed into foster care. Angel Bags are comfort bags provided to these children that typically include a stuffed animal, toiletries, and a gift card for necessities, as the children are often removed with only the clothes they are wearing. She also provides bus passes to young adults who have recently "aged-out" of the foster care system as well as gas cards to Guardian Ad Litems to help ease the financial burden on each party.
Sandy Kearney becomes the 334th 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 $16.8 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.