Looking down a list of Tampa Bay area community leaders, Steve Yerrid's name is one that is sure to come up.
Although Yerrid has gained much of his recognition through his work as a lawyer, Tampa Bay Lightning fans are likely to associate his name with The Yerrid Foundation and the yearly Tampa Bay Fights Cancer Night that brings thousands of yellow shirts into the St. Pete Times Forum.
Thanks to his successful career as a lawyer, Yerrid has found himself in a position to reach out to the local community and achieve a goal that he holds close to his heart: The goal of making a difference.
In the circle of law Yerrid is best known for his involvement in a variety of high-profile cases, including the historic lawsuit against the cigarette industry in 1997. As one of eleven trial lawyers selected to represent the State of Florida, Yerrid fought on behalf of Florida taxpayers and children to seal a victory that resulted in one of the country's largest civil monetary settlements.
Yerrid also holds a variety of distinctions including being recognized as one of the Top Ten Litigators in Florida by the National Law Journal and receiving the distinction of Trial Lawyer of the Year in April, 2004 by the Tampa Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates. In addition to awards he has received, Yerrid has been admitted to the Bars of a variety of high-ranking United States courts including the United States Supreme Court and the State Bars of Florida, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
While he holds these distinctions and honors as a lawyer, some of his best work can be seen through the local philanthropic endeavors he has a hand in. At the forefront of his efforts is The Yerrid Foundation, a non-profit organization which has its focus in child-oriented causes.
Through the work of his Foundation, Yerrid has been honored on behalf of well-known Tampa Bay organizations including the Pediatric Cancer Foundation and the Children's Cancer Center. Both of these organizations have also worked closely with the Lightning, which has helped develop a group partnership between all the parties.
That partnership has evolved into a variety of events, such as Tampa Bay Fights Cancer Night, that have helped Yerrid spread his message that hope and determination can help those afflicted with cancer.
"I think the message the event (Tampa Bay Fights Cancer) sends can be summarized in one word: Hope," Yerrid said. "Hope that there's going to be a better life. Hope that we can all find a cure by working together. Hope that no one among us will feel alone and hope that people believe in a dream, a dream whereby all people come together using everything we have at our disposal in making life better for the generations ahead."
In making life better for future generations, Yerrid's vision includes bringing comfort and joy to families of children with cancer.
Working with the Lightning, that vision has been turned into an event in which thousands of people with cancer, their families, caregivers, doctors and nurses are invited to a Lightning game to have a fun night that takes them away from their problems and struggles. Members of the cancer community are invited to a game and given the opportunity to meet players, watch some hockey and participate in a variety of events.
"Instead of being victims of a terrible disease, that night we celebrate them as heroes," Yerrid said of Tampa Bay Fights Cancer Night. "From victims to heroes, and that makes me feel great inside. It doesn't make me feel good, it makes me feel great and it makes me feel alive. All of my troubles seem very small and all of my blessings seem very large, and it's all brought into focus by these people and this night, and that's what the purpose of the night is."
"I hope that we realize all of the good things we have before we lose them, enjoy our life before it's gone. I hope most of all that because we're here we make a difference in others lives and we make them a little bit better for their efforts and for having lived. Nobody can ask for more than that."MORE