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TAMPA, FL – The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Carrie Esposito as the Lightning Community Hero this evening during the first period of tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens. Esposito, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, presented by Jabil, will donate the money to Deaf & Hard of Hearing Services of Florida, Alzheimer’s Association, Ian’s Way, and Pinellas Park Library’s Deaf Literacy Center (PPL).

Esposito works tirelessly to help the deaf, hard of hearing, and people with late-in-life hearing loss in the Tampa Bay region. Being hard of hearing herself, Esposito knows firsthand the challenges these individuals face. In fact, when she was a baby doctors had told her mother she would never be able to read or be independent. With her parents’ support, Esposito beat all of the odds, even receiving her associate degree. Since joining the team at Deaf & Hard of Hearing Services of Florida in 2013, she has gone above and beyond to serve those that would otherwise have no access to assistance because of communication barriers. Esposito advocates for people in hospitals, in the workplace, in courts, with law enforcement, and with domestic violence victims. Additionally, she has helped over 100 individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing find and maintain employment. 

The funds from tonight’s grant will be used to support the unique missions of Deaf & Hard of Hearing Services of Florida, Alzheimer’s Association, Ian’s Way, and Pinellas Park Library’s Deaf Literacy Center. Deaf & Hard of Hearing Services of Florida will continue to expand their programming to meet with current needs of the Deaf & Hard of Hearing community and their support systems. Focusing specifically on programming within the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter, the Alzheimer’s Association will dedicate funds to their awareness, education, and support programs. Ian’s Way will use the funds to expand their Talk Time program, which offers group counseling with a mental health professional to teens ages 12-19 to reduce suicide rates amongst teens. PPL will use the funds for general operations support.

Esposito became the 578th 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 tonight’s game, in total, the Lightning Foundation has granted $31.27 million to nearly 750 unique nonprofits in the Greater Tampa Bay area. During the summer of 2021, the Viniks announced that the Community Hero program will give away another $10 million over the next five seasons.