TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Tonja Brickhouse as the third Lightning Community Hero this season during the first period of tonight's game versus the Pittsburgh Penguins. Brickhouse, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate to Dawning Family Services (formerly Alpha House) and Delta, Inc.
Growing up as the daughter of a single mother and as a single mother herself, Brickhouse experienced first-hand the struggles single mothers and their children face. Despite her overwhelming challenges, Brickhouse completed high school as a salutatorian, attended the University of Virginina and joined the Air Force. Brickhouse became one of the few African America women to join the upper ranks of the Air Force as a Colonel. In turn, Brickhouse has dedicated her life to helping women in crisis by sharing her powerful story of overcoming obstacles.
Brickhouse contributes more than 20 hours each week for nine different nonprofit organizations. She mentors single mothers at Dawning Family Services and at-risk students at the Take Stock in Children program. During her six-year tenure on the Board of Directors for Dawning Family Services, Brickhouse positively impacted the lives of over 500 mothers and 400 children who were experiencing homelessness. Brickhouse assisted in providing mothers with safe housing and vocational training to advance their education while leading strategic fundraisng efforts. She helped raise nearly 9 million dollars for Dawning Family Services and continues to strengthen the agency's programs by sharing her inspirational message of hope to families in crisis. Brickhouse will be also be donating to Delta, Inc., a scholarship for disadvantaged students graduating from Hillsborough County.
Brickhouse becomes the 371st 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 $18.55 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.