TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Tom Pepin as the 20th Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Pepin, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Pepin Academies.
Pepin embodies the philosophy that if you focus on the disability, you miss the ability. This philosophy has enabled him to make a difference in the lives of many students in the community struggling with learning disabilities by helping them reach their hidden potential. In 1999, he and his family helped initiate the development of Pepin Academies, a 501 (c)(3) not for profit, tuition free, public charter school for students with learning disabilities, serving K – 12, and Pepin Transitional serving young adults ages 18 – 22.
Continuing to provide vision, leadership, and financial support, Pepin has helped grow the original Pepin Academy high school of 17 students into a two campus school now serving close to 700 students in Hillsborough County. An additional campus in Pasco County was recently opened in the fall serving grades 3 – 10 with future plans to add on 11th and 12th grade learning.
In addition to being named tonight’s Lightning Community Hero, Pepin has received several acknowledgements for his devoted contributions to the community including: Citizen of the Year by the Tampa Police Department (2014), the President’s Award from the Chiefs of Police Association (2014), and Health Care Philanthropist of the Year by the Tampa Bay Business Journal (2010).