Tampa Bay Lightning Head Coach John Tortorella and his wife Christine, a children’s book author, truly are champions of the Tampa Bay community. On April 5, 2007, The Children’s Home recognized the Tortorellas for their contributions at its Annual Recognition Luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Tampa.
More than 400 supporters helped honor the couple with the distinguished Helen Ayala Davis Award, named after the late philanthropist and board member who assisted The Children’s Home for many years.
Over the years, the Tortorellas have supported a variety of local organizations that enrich the lives of people throughout the Tampa Bay community. Both personally and in conjunction with the Lightning Foundation, they have focused their unique resources to advance amateur hockey and educational enrichment opportunities for children, along with medical research and treatment for those in need.
At The Children’s Home, the Tortorellas have graciously provided ongoing assistance to ensure that programs are in place to help children who are victims of abuse, neglect and abandonment. They are regular visitors to the campus and have taken a personal interest in the lives of the children who live there on a temporary basis while receiving therapeutic care.
In accepting the award, the Tortorellas spoke of the importance of helping others who have been dealt tough circumstances, particularly children who have suffered at the hands of family members. "It's heartbreaking knowing these children need to be in a home away from their family," said Christine Tortorella. "Children need the community to respond to their needs. It draws me in knowing children are out there without parents."
According to Gerard Veneman, President/CEO of The Children’s Home, the Tortorellas’ ongoing support makes a heartfelt difference in the children’s lives. “John and Christine are such giving people, and it shows when they visit our campus and interact with the kids,” he said. “Thanks to their support—and that of the Tampa Bay community—we are able to continue our hard and ‘heart’ work of healing the wounds of their past and finding them a ‘forever family’ for the future.”
The Children’s Home Annual Recognition Luncheon in the past has recognized John and Susan Sykes, George and Joan Steinbrenner, Columba Bush, General H. Norman Schwarzkopf and Outback Steakhouse founders Robert D. Basham, J. Timothy Gannon and Chris T. Sullivan. In 2006, the Award was given to the 13 Ugly Men Foundation, Inc.